Just west of Fort Pierce, a 526-acre reservoir is finally coming to life.
"It’s important to have these projects here that can treat the 2,500 acre feet of storm water flow," says Brandon Tucker, a member of the South Florida Water Management Governing Board.
That’s 815 million gallons flowing into the 10 Mile Creek Water Preserve area.
“It comes out of the drainage basin and then flows into the North Fork of the St. Lucie River," says Tucker.
Tucker says the water that comes in to the reservoir is not from Lake Okeechobee, but local storm water basin runoff.
“So now we can stop this water, we can hold it, we can treat it," says Tucker.
It has been a long time just to get to this point. This project was first completed in 2006, but there were problems right away.
“They had seepage issues, water was getting under the levees so a lot of work had to be done to shore that up," says Tucker.
The district took over the struggling project from the Army Corps of Engineers last year, spent $7 million in state funds, and just last month, began pumping water in. While the current levels are still below the 4-5 foot depth expected, and far below the 10-foot depth first planned for by the Army Corps, Tucker says it’s an important piece of the overall water quality puzzle.
“We need to continue to be focused on storage north of Lake Okeechobee. We’re getting the Kissimmee River restored finally," says Tucker.
After the project was first built and the leaks were discovered, the Army Corps, and the engineers who designed the reservoir ended up in court for nine years. A sealed settlement was reached in 2015.