A new reservoir is officially open on the east side of Lake Okeechobee. This it is about half of the size of The City of Naples.
The new reservoir could also be seen as a blueprint for cleaner waterways in what is being called a monumental day for Florida’s environment and water quality.
Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez agrees that it’s a big day. “Today is indeed a big day. It’s a big day for Florida’s environment, for our Everglades, for the Treasure Coast, for the entire country, quite frankly,” said Lieutenant Governor Nunez.
with the cutting of a ribbon and the starting of pumps, the C44 Reservoir is officially open and ready for water.
Colonel James Booth is the Commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District. “It’s a water storage facility that can handle 50,000-acre feet of water,” said Booth.
“Primarily focused on local runoff of the C-44 canal or St. Lucie canal area, but we do have the capability to bring water off of the canal that does come out of Lake Okeechobee if it’s needed,” Booth said.
The water is pumped in, rushing into the reservoir. Then, it will travel to the stormwater treatment plant for cleaning. It will also revitalize the habitat in the Indian River Lagoon by balancing the freshwater in the lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary. It is also set to improve water quality.
“When we’re reducing the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen that’s in the water, it certainly reduces the chances of having those algal blooms,” Booth said.
Florida’s west coast is no stranger to water quality issues. This is why Chauncey Goss of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board looks forward to the C-43 Reservoir for Southwest Florida.
“We’re going to be taking water and we’re going to be pulling it off the river, and we’re going to be storing it, and then we’re going to be cleaning it,” Goss said. “And then we’re going to be putting it back in the river, and that’s exactly what we want to do to try and be able to deal with some of those discharges.”
This project will be one piece in moving water where it’s needed and keeping it away from where it shouldn’t be.
The C-43 Reservoir to the west of Lake Okeechobee will catch wet season flows from the lake and local runoff. It is expected to be complete in 2023.
Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District (USACE) and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) hosted a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the ceremonial filling of the Indian River Lagoon- South C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area.
“We are here with our outstanding partners at the South Florida Water Management District to cut the ribbon and celebrate the ceremonial filling of the C-44 Reservoir,” said Col. James Booth, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander. “This Everglades restoration project is massive in scale – the reservoir alone is roughly two miles by 3 miles wide. The C-44 component of the Indian River Lagoon-South project will capture, store, and treat local runoff from the C-44 basin, revitalize habitat in the Indian River Lagoon, help restore the balance of fresh and salt water in the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Estuary, and provide significant water quality improvements.”
“Early in our administration, Governor DeSantis outlined our vision for our environment. Today, we are proud to fulfill that vision by announcing the completion of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area project, which will now provide more than 60,000-acre-feet of new water storage,” Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez said. “This is the largest Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project ever completed. Governor DeSantis and I will continue our commitment in protecting our natural resources and treasures.”
“We’re proud to celebrate the completion of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area as part of our significant efforts to advance the restoration of America’s Everglades,” said Chauncey Goss, Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board. “The State of Florida, under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, will continue its strong commitment to expediting Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects while supporting additional efforts to reduce harmful estuary discharges and restore flow to the Everglades.”
“The completion of the C-44 reservoir is another inspiring example of Everglades Restoration partnerships, success and progress. This project brings us another step closer to a healthy and resilient Everglades ecosystem. said Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, the U.S. Department of the Interior. “The restoration of ecosystems, landscapes and watersheds is among the most important work we can do to we tackle the climate crisis.”
“Today marks another advancement for restoration of America’s Everglades,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “The bold vision and leadership of Governor DeSantis and critical partnerships, like with the water management district and the Army Corps, will allow us to continue to expedite Everglades restoration and reach milestones like the ribbon cutting we are here to celebrate today. This critical project will revitalize habitat in the Indian River Lagoon, help restore the balance of fresh and salt water in the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Estuary, and provide significant water quality improvements.”
“Everglades restoration is the single most important ecological project for the State of Florida and it has long been a top priority of mine,” said Senator Marco Rubio. “Today’s ribbon cutting for the C-44 Project represents a milestone for Everglades restoration. It is a project that will make a real difference to the health of the Indian River Lagoon and the quality of life for people in South Florida. I am proud of the progress we have made and I’ll continue fighting for each project so we can restore and protect South Florida’s critical ecosystems.”
“Today is a momentous day!” said State Senator Gayle Harrell of Stuart. “The opening of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area are so important to our Treasure Coast and to the health of the St. Lucie River and Estuary. This is project that I have worked on for almost 20 years and I am delighted to see it come to fruition.”
“The completion of this project marks one of the most significant collaborations of all levels of government, local community support, and engineering achievement in our nation,” said Martin County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Doug Smith. “It was 20 years in the making and its completion marks the beginning of what we will likely call ‘The Good Ole Days’ of Everglades restoration.”
Authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, the C-44 Basin Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) is a component of the Indian River Lagoon – South (IRL-S) Project, which is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The C-44 Reservoir and STA capture local runoff from the C-44 Basin, reducing average annual total nutrient loads and improving the salinity regimen for the St. Lucie River Estuary and the southern portion of the Indian River Lagoon. The reservoir and STA provide a total 60,500 acre-feet of new water storage, between the 50,600 acre-feet in the reservoir and 9,900 acre-feet in the STA, and 6,300 acres of new wetlands.
C-44 Basin Project Features include:
- Pump Station
- Intake Canal (from C-44) and Bank Stabilization
- Perimeter Canal, Embankment, and Roads
- Discharge Structure
- Bridge across Citrus Boulevard
Stormwater Treatment Area (STA)
- Six Cells and Flowway Structures
- Collection/Drainage Canals
- Perimeter/Distribution Canals
- System Discharge Spillways and Canal (into C-44)
- Spillway and Box Culvert across Citrus Boulevard
- Up to 2 years of Operational Testing
This major Everglades restoration effort is a 50-50 partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Here’s the breakdown:
- The C-44 Reservoir constructed by USACE is 3,400 acres, with 50,600 acre-feet of storage and cost $227,299,000.
- The C-44 Reservoir Intake Canal was constructed by USACE at a cost of $36,086,000.
- The C-44 Reservoir Pump Station constructed by the SFWMD can move 1,000 cubic feet per second and cost $40,305,000.
The C-44 Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) constructed by the SFWMD is 6,300 Acres, with 9,900 acre-feet of storage, and cost $109,600,00.
- The C-44 Reservoir System Discharge was constructed by the SFWMD at a cost of $5,378,000.
The Indian River Lagoon Watershed is home to more than 4,300 species of plants and animals and supports an annual economic contribution of more than $730 million. In addition, the Indian River Lagoon is known as the most bio-diverse habitat in North America and has been designated an Estuary of National Significance by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).