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Water basin project in Hendry County an effort to restore Everglades, expected to create jobs

Crews are starting to build a new basin in Hendry County to collect rain water as part of the effort to restore the Everglades.

The goal is to hold the water, clean it and then send it south. The project is underway to help get water to the Everglades where it’s desperately needed.

“We’re building basically a huge engineering surge tank to take storm water when it’s raining hard and store it,” said Drew Bartlett, the executive director of South Florida Water Management District.

That huge tank, which will look more like a lake, is the C-139 Flow Equalization Basin.

“It’s going to meter that storm water slowly through a storm water treatment area, which interacts with plants to pull pollutants out of the waterway and then deliver clean water to the everglades,” Bartlett explained.

Commissioner Karson Turner in Hendry County is excited to see the project come to life.

“I’m so proud to see it happening right before myself and to be involved in some of those conversations,” Turner said.

Watching what used to be home to cattle and citrus is a bittersweet excitement.

“It’s going to serve a major purpose with regards to restoration and water cleanliness and water storage, and we need those things,” Turner said. “But … it is hard to see it from time to time, and it tugs at your heart whenever it is something that is so near and dear to you.”

This project is expected to be complete in two years.

On top of revamping the land to replenish the parched Everglades, it should bring more jobs to the area.

“This is a big deal,” said Chauncey Goss, the governing board chairman of SFWMD. “This is going to bring a lot of jobs to Hendry County. It’s going to bring a lot of jobs probably to maybe even eastern Collier, so that’s good. So we are trying to keep that money home and put that money to work within the district, and that’s good because it’s Florida taxpayer money.”

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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