MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday in Martin County for a long-awaited reservoir that hopes to improve the quality of multiple waterways on the Treasure Coast.
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The event was for the opening of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area, which is designed to capture local runoff from the C-44 basin along with reducing nutrient loads and improving salinity in the St. Lucie Estuary and the southern portion of the Indian River Lagoon.
Ribbon cutting at the long-anticipated C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area, designed to capture local runoff from the C-44 basin, reducing average annual total nutrient loads & improving salinity in the St. Lucie Estuary & the southern portion of the Indian River Lagoon. pic.twitter.com/zBVnptvPvw— Martin County BOCC (@MartinCountygov) November 19, 2021
The reservoir project was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District.
The Army Corps was joined by local water officials and politicians including Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez and Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, for the ceremony.
"That treatment area will clean that water by basically consuming the nitrogen and phosphorus, reduce those levels, and allow us to put that water back into the watershed, which then flows down to the St. Lucie Estuary," said Col. James Booth with the Army Corps of Engineers.
The pumps were turned on at the new C44 Reservoir - the goal is provide cleaner water to St Lucie Estuary and Everglades. pic.twitter.com/U6Sp2W0YdH— Matt Sczesny WPTV (@WPTVMatt) November 19, 2021
The Indian River Lagoon is home to more than 3,000 species and is considered to be the most biologically diverse system in the entire country.
With the new reservoir, engineers can also hold water to release during the dry season.
"This is storing the water from the C-44 basin, which would normally just run right out into the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon," said Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society. "Instead of doing that, we are pulling it out, storing it, treating it through the stormwater treatment areas and slowly letting it back in, so that really is going to be significant to the estuary and pulling out phosphorus and nitrogen."
The new project provides more than 60,000 acre-feet of new water storage and 6,300 acres of new wetlands.