Using Water From C-23 for PSL Future Water Supply, McCarthy Ranch, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

McCarty Ranch is located in St Lucie County and will be the future water supply for the City of Port St Lucie.

McCarty Ranch is/was located in St Lucie County and will be the future water supply for the City of Port St Lucie.

The first time I heard about McCarty Ranch was from, at the time, City Manager Greg Orvac. It was 2012 and he invited me up to Port St Lucie to see all the wonderful work they were doing building areas to clean water run off and to learn about how the city was planning for its future water supply.

I was told that the idea of McCarty Ranch was that the city would  build a water treatment plant to withdrawal the polluted agriculture tainted water in the C-23 canal before it gets to the river, hold it, treat it, and use it.

“Wow,” I thought. “This is wild, I have heard of things like this in other areas of the state, but right here at home?”

This is great news about cleaning the filthy C-23 canal water that is one of many canals along with Lake Okeechobee releases killing our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdfbut there is also a tang of future “water wars” in this scenario as cities jostle for securing their future water supply.

Port St Lucie recently has become the 9th largest city in the state of Florida and has approximately 250,000 residents. By 2060 or so, they expect 400,000 or more. Three years before I was born, in 1961, a handful of residents petitioned the legislature for the fish camp area to become a city…

By looking at the Google map above, one can see that McCarty Ranch is located just above the C-23 canal east of Gatlin Boulevard. The C-23 canal is the “county line” between Martin and St Lucie Counties. I do not really know the details, and I think the city and county are still arguing over details in spite of a front page article in Scripps Newspapers today, but one would think the city will either have to also annex some of the lands below the McCarty piece or just have giant pipes connecting it to the C-23 through a small connected parcel. Either way, I am sure over time it will occur. They will build what they need to remove by South Florida Water Management District, (SFWMD), permit, water from the C-23 canal and use it for their citizens.

You may be thinking, the McCarty name rings a bell because you know or because  I recently wrote a blog about Dan McCarty awhile back. The blog was about how I stumbled upon a grave in Palms Cemetery along Indian River Drive that read: “Governor Daniel McCarty.”

Yes, the ranch belonged to this prominent St Lucie County, former 1800s pineapple, then ranch and citrus family.

If you have the time to listen to the first video link below, there is a fascinating video interview with Mrs Peggy McCarty Monahan, the granddaughter of Charles Tobin McCarty, talking about her father, the brother of Dan, the governor, saying to her when she was a young girl:  “Water is gong to be an issue, water is going to be the most important thing…”

Through these words he was telling her that one day the ranch’s proximity to the City of Port St Lucie would make it ideal for water storage and supply. Many of these old time ranchers preached this theme to their children knowing we had worked so hard to get the water off the land and one day we would be trying to put it back on…

Apparently there are lakes and mined areas on the property for water storage; I am unsure if the original McCarty idea included drawing water from C-23 canal; it very well could be, as C-23 was built in the 50s and 60s and waste tremendous amounts of water to tide in order to drain the surrounding lands for agriculture and development.

C-23  is one of the dirtiest canals dumping into the St Lucie River; it will be good to remove some of the water before it gets to the river but will there ever be a day when it takes too much or Martin County wants that water too?

Sounds far-fetched for sure, but all I know is that stranger things have happened along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Who would have though Port St Lucie would one day be projected to have over 400,000 people?

Aerial of what was to become the City of Port St Lucie, 1957. (Photo Ruhnke/Thurlow collection, courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Aerial of what was to become the City of Port St Lucie, 1957. (Photo Ruhnke/Thurlow collection, courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

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Interview with Peggy McCarty Monahan and PSL Strategic Plan for Water Supply McCarty Ranch: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez_K6vFKt6Q)

Port St Lucie Web Page McCarty Ranch: (http://www.cityofpsl.com/parks-recreation/parks/mccarty_ranch.html)

Port St Lucie: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_St._Lucie,_Florida)

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