Army Corps completes tank to reclaim the Everglades

Army Corps completes tank to reclaim the Everglades

Stewart, Florida. The US Army Corps of Engineers has completed work on a $339 million Everglades restoration project aimed at clearing running water before it flows into the turbulent Florida River.

The Corps and local officials held a party Friday for the 12,000-acre project in Martin County known officially as the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment District. It is an essential part of a broader effort to restore the vast Florida Everglades.

The tank will capture, store, and clean fertilizer-laden runoff from farms and development before directing it to the St. Lucie River and eventually the Indian River Lagoon. Both have been plagued by harmful algal blooms and other long-term problems associated with water pollution that threatens wildlife and human health.

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“I think it’s huge” for the East Coast, said Chauncey Goss, president of the South Florida Water Management District. “Not only symbolically, but it’s also going to take the water and clean it up and help get rid of some of these discharges, and that’s really the point of all of this.”

The project could store 19.7 billion gallons of water, according to state water directors. It will use plants like Alcatel to absorb about 35 metric tons of phosphorous each year before the water makes its way into the St. Lucie River.

First dug in 1923, the C-44 was built to divert potential flood waters from Lake Okeechobee into the east-flowing river. Some environmental groups say the new reservoir will still allow much fresh water to flow into the river and coastal estuaries, upsetting the natural balance.

“The bottom line: More fresh water means more fresh water. It will be cleaner water with less sediment. All that is good. Gallons by gallon, it will go through those gates eventually,” said Mike Conner, Indian River ranger.

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The project is part of the Indian River Lagoon-South project, and is part of the comprehensive Everglades restoration plan. This long-term program includes 68 projects designed to restore, protect and maintain the Everglades ecosystem.

The new C-44 tank is the first fully completed part of the comprehensive restoration plan.

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