The US Army Corps of Engineers has completed work on a $ 339 million reservoir built to clean up runoff before it flows into a struggling Florida river.
The Corps and local officials held a ceremony Friday for the 12,000-acre (4,800-hectare) project in Martin County, officially known as the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area. It’s a key part of a larger effort to restore the vast Florida Everglades.
âI think that’s hugeâ for the east coast, said Chauncey Goss, president of the South Florida Water Management District. âNot only symbolically, but it’s also going to take the water, clean it up and help get rid of some of this landfill, which is really the point of it all.
The project can store 19.7 billion gallons (71 billion liters) of water, according to the state’s water managers. It will use plants such as cattails to suck up around 35 metric tons of phosphorus each year before the water flows into the St. Lucia River.
Canal C-44, first dug in 1923, was built to divert potential floodwater from Lake Okeechobee to the east flowing river. Some environmental groups say the new reservoir will still allow too much fresh water to flow into river and coastal estuaries, disrupting the natural balance.
âThe bottom line: too much fresh water is too much fresh water. It will be cleaner water with less sediment. It’s all good. But a gallon is a gallon, and eventually it will go through those gates, âsaid Indian Riverkeeper Mike Conner.
The project is part of the Indian River Lagoon-South project, which is a component of the comprehensive Everglades restoration plan. This long-term program includes 68 projects designed to restore, protect and preserve the Everglades ecosystem.
The new C-44 reservoir is the first fully completed part of the comprehensive restoration plan.