Indiantown, FL (STL.News) Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis visited the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) site to highlight Everglades restoration and activate the pumps which began the process of filling the manmade wetland with water. The C-44 STA will remove harmful nutrients and provide regional water quality benefits. Joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), conservation groups, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local community leaders, Governor DeSantis celebrated this important Everglades restoration project as water filled the wetland.
“These are the first gallons of water pumped into this major environmental restoration project that plays a huge role in giving us a cleaner, healthier St. Lucie Estuary,” said Governor DeSantis. “We must do more now for our environment to reduce harmful discharges to the coastal estuaries and improve water quality, and this treatment area will play a major role in accomplishing both goals. We will continue to expedite critical Everglades reservoir projects like the C-44 Reservoir.”
“We are making great strides this year in Everglades restoration,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “We expedited construction on the EAA Reservoir Project, we broke ground on the construction of the C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir Project, and today we celebrate the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area. Many projects are moving forward and will be completed sooner because of the dedicated funding to these projects and we thank the Governor for his unwavering support.”
The SFWMD recently completed three of the six cells of the 6,300-acre treatment area and expects to have the entire STA completed next year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building a 3,400-acre reservoir next to the STA that is expected to be completed in 2021.
The C-44 Reservoir will store 50,000 acre-feet of water, including local basin runoff and Lake Okeechobee releases. This will reduce harmful releases reaching the St. Lucie Estuary that can fuel harmful algal blooms. The C-44 STA will treat the water stored in the reservoir before it is released into the estuary.
“I can’t help but smile. Water flowing into this treatment area marks a momentous day in the history of the Everglades, the Treasure Coast, and the St. Lucie Estuary,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch. “This is the start of the road to a healthier estuary and Everglades. Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, progress on Everglades restoration is moving at a rapid pace.”
“I’ve been working on this project for about 10 years,” said Senator Gayle Harrell. “To see it come to fruition is so exciting.”
“This project is another example of the close partnership the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state have built over the years,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District Commander Col. Andrew Kelly. “The C-44 Reservoir and the associated Stormwater Treatment Area are critical in our plans for more flexible and effective water management in Florida. It will play a big role in the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual being developed right now by giving us more options on how we move water in the area.”
“After 20 years of work, effort and energy with lots of starts and stops, finally getting to the point where we can see some of these things reach the completion stage is one of the most exciting things we’ve seen in Martin County in a long time,” said Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith.
“I was here eight years ago for the groundbreaking,” said Martin County Commission Chairman Ed Ciampi. “The work that has taken place during those eight years is herculean. The positive environmental benefits, not just for Martin County but for the entire region, we will benefit from this forever.”
“This project is emblematic of what Governor DeSantis and his administration set out to achieve a mere 10 months ago: ‘more now for Florida’s environment,’” said Everglades Foundation Senior Ecologist and Communications Director Dr. Steve Davis. “As Floridians are keenly aware, this equates to more for Florida’s economy in the future,”
“We’re just pleased to see this thing getting completed and online,” said Florida Farm Bureau Assistant Director of Government and Community Affairs Gary Ritter. “The Florida Farm Bureau has been a strong supporter of this project for a long time.”
“It is indeed a great day when we can inaugurate Everglades restoration projects,” said Audubon Florida Board Member Carol Timmis. “We are encouraged by Governor DeSantis’ resolve to act with urgency for Florida’s environment. Our waters, wildlife, and families depend upon it, and they cannot wait. Governor DeSantis, thank you for your bold leadership and resolve to move restoration along with greater intensity. It’s exactly what Florida’s communities need.”
“Thank you to you, Governor Ron DeSantis for your leadership,” said Program Director for Captains for Clean Water Chris Wittman. “It has become more and more clear this year that water quality is the most important thing facing our communities in Florida, not only to sustain our way our life but to drive a thriving economy. Over the last year, we’ve seen Everglades restoration and water quality initiatives move at a lightning pace. That’s good news for Floridians. We are grateful to Governor DeSantis for you being here.”
“It’s a good thing to begin the C-44 stormwater treatment area today and is an important part of Governor DeSantis’ initiative to get these projects underway quickly,” said Florida Oceanographic Society Executive Director Mark Perry. “We know that these treatment area help clean the water before it goes back into the system and have the capacity to improve water quality in this area.”
Just weeks ago, Governor DeSantis visited the site of the Caloosahatchee Reservoir Project in Hendry County to celebrate the groundbreaking of the final phase of construction. The Caloosahatchee Reservoir which will store 170,000 acre-feet of water and support the health of the Caloosahatchee Estuary.
The C-44 STA, Caloosahatchee Reservoir and other critical Everglades restoration projects were identified by Governor DeSantis in his Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment Executive Order to be expedited and completed as quickly as possible. SFWMD is working with its partners including DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite planning, permitting, design and construction of these important projects.