INDIANTOWN, Fla. - - A full-scale project to restore the Everglades is expected to bring huge benefits for the environment as well as Martin County's economy.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the restoration efforts will create about a thousand jobs in the first phase of the project.
One day there will be a 3,400 acre reservoir in the area and a storm water treatment area nearly twice that size. It's all meant to improve water quality.
The project is welcome news to Louise White, who lives Indiantown and volunteers with Martin County Audobon.
"It's just mud," she says of the C-44 waterway, "mud. You can't even see any of the fish. The water is so muddy, sometimes with a green sheen on it."
"I think it's going to enhance the water quality for the whole area," said lifelong Indiantown resident Clyde Dawson.
Dawson, who owns the Indiantown airport, is excited for what the Everglades restoration will bring to the area.
"Martin County is a good place to live," he said. "A lot of fine people. It's got a lot of potential."
During the first phase of the project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will build a giant intake to move the water from the C-44 waterway into the reservoir.
"It's going to benefit fish, manatees, water quality," explained U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Orlando Ramos.
Ramos said the water will move into the reservoir before coming into contact with man-made wetlands, that will naturally clean the water before it flows into the Saint Lucie River Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon. The first phase of the project will take about two years and will add approximately a thousand jobs, with more as the project progresses.
"You've got construction, support, materials," said Ramos. "You've got people working as electricians, engineering, surveyors and many others."
The Army Corps of Engineers tried to start the Everglades restoration project in 2006; however, it didn't have the funding. Now with the help of state and federal money, the $730 million project is finally going forward.
"We are very concerned about water quality. We are very concerned about Everglades restoration," said Martin County Commissioner Sarah Heard. "We are so thankful that finally after decades of wrangling and planning we're finally seeing some implementation."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the project will take about six years from start to finish. In addition to improving water quality, the agency said improving the wetlands can raise property values, lower water treatment costs and increase tourism by bringing more people to area parks and encouraging hunting and fishing.
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