Bessey Creek “Hybrid Wetland Treatment Project,” What’s That? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Bessey Creek in 1965, is the exiting point for C-23 into the St Lucie River. The canal was  built between 1959 and  1961.
Bessey Creek (winding left into today’s Palm City) along exiting point for C-23 into the St Lucie River. The canal was built between 1959 and 1961. Bessey Creek used to be a flowing, clean beautiful creek–today it is polluted.(Photo Thurlow Archive, 1965)

Press Release for “Hybrid Wetland Technology Treatment Project Groundbreaking:”

(http://www.martin.fl.us/documents2010/info_release/eng/2015/MC_Info_Release-Bessey_Hybrid_event_FINAL.pdf)

Because of my Sewall’s Point commission position, I received an invitation to attend yesterday’s groundbreaking of Martin County’s “Bessey Creek Hybrid Wetland Treatment Technology Project” ceremony located about 2.1 miles north of SW Citrus Boulevard in Palm City. I was honored that they invited me, so I decided to go. I have read about the project for a couple of years now, but of course I am no expert on chemical cleaning of filthy storm water running into our waterways.

On the way there, I was thinking:

“Does Bessey Creek really start all the way out here?”

I always think of the mouth of Bessey Creek, which intersects with the notorious C-23 Canal as the border of Martin and St Lucie Counties, when I think of Bessey Creek.

Driving so far away from the coast, memories came back to me of Martin County High School in the 1980s, and the great parties off of Boat Ramp Road! (I’ll stop there…. ūüôā

Years ago, before the draining and canal building of the 1920s and after, these Palm City area lands were mostly “wetlands” but now they are “dry.” When I was young, it was mostly cows “out here,” but now it is thousands of people and agricultue.

Bessey Creek area
Bessey Creek area by groundbreaking off Citrus Blvd. (northern  part of photo Google map photo)
This photo is more easterly showing where Bessey Creek exits into SLR. (Google Earth)
This photo is more south-easterly showing where Bessey Creek exits into SLR. (Google Earth) Today’s version of 1965 photo at beginning of this blog post.

The groundbreaking was very well done and elegant Vice-Chair of the Martin County commission, Ann Scott, led the ceremony. Commissioner, John Haddox, was there as well. Deb Drum’s team, ¬†from the county’s Ecosystem Restoration and Management Division of the Martin County Engineering Department is the lead organizer for the project itself. One of the many things they are working on!

The Florida Legislature, especially Senator Joe Negron, and the Florida Department of Agriculture also very much helped with this 3 million dollar “turn dirt” project. According to Mr Budell from the Department of Agriculture, the Bessey Creek project is one of about 10 in the state and mid-sized in comparison.

Deb Drum, MC (Photo JTL)
Deb Drum, MC (Photo JTL)
Senator Joe Negron and Rich Budell, FDACS. (Photo JTL)
Senator Joe Negron, Rich Budell, FDACS and MC Administrator, Taryn Kryzda. (Photo JTL)
Part of area to be constructed. (Photo JTL)
Part of area to be constructed. (Photo JTL)
Artist drawing of project to come. (Photo JTL)
Artist drawing of project to come. (Photo JTL)

I am happy to see the Agriculture Department’s involvement as “Ag.” plays a huge role in the problem in the first place and without them, as powerful as they are, like it or not, we will never get anywhere…

After the ceremony, Tom Debusk from the company “Watershed Technologies” (http://www.watershedtechnologiesllc.com/technology/)¬†gave a presentation explaining how the system operated. The link above is an excellent resource and also has previous articles from TC PALM.

As usual, during the presentation, I had to ask a lot of questions to understand, and Mr Debusk was very patient with me, but basically the remaining pathetic “headwaters” of Bessey Creek start somewhere between Boat Ramp Road and Citrus Blvd, close to where we¬†were all standing. ¬†The county is leasing (for almost nothing) this land from the state.¬†It will be up and running in one year.

How does it work?

Well, simply put, a pond like treatment area will be built¬†and take diverted waters from Bessey Creek and treat them with a combination of aluminum sulfate (basically a salt that is non poisonous and has natural properties to clean water (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_sulfate,) and aquatic plants that will “uptake” mostly phosphorus, but also some nitrogen, and other pollutants from the water. So pollutants will be “separated” or “taken in”….leaving the water clean as it meanders to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

We must keep in mind of course, that phosphorus and nitrogen come from the surrounding lands: equestrian community; decorative plant farms; ¬†ranch homes; (fertilizer and animal waste….etc…)

Tom Debusk of Watershed Technologies explains the project. (Photo JTL)
Tom Debusk of Watershed Technologies explains the project. (Photo JTL)
Glass files showing how aluminum sulfate separates the P and N and other pollutants causing them to fall to the bottom and form a clay like substance that can be removed and recycled (as a type of fertilizer) or just put in the land fill. (Photo JTL)
Glass files showing how aluminum sulfate separates the P and N and other pollutants causing them to fall to the bottom and form a clay like substance that can be removed and recycled (as a type of fertilizer) or just put in the land fill. (Photo JTL)
Concentrated removal of pollutants from water, now as hard as a rock.
Concentrated removal of pollutants from water, now as hard as a rock.

I was happy to learn that the chemical aluminum sulfate won’t hurt wildlife (or people), but I did wonder about dealing with “source pollution” so we are not just paying to clean water that surrounding landowners are continually making dirty….I was assured that surrounding areas are being educated not to shovel horse poop along the creek and Best Management Practices are continually being refined. (http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/agriculture/bmps.html)

I drove off thinking feeling good and thinking about how “water/the river” is seeing her day in the sun. I also drove off hoping that with all of our various efforts we can clean up a river whose surrounding wetlands and highlands we have turned into a “drained ant-pile of people.”

….Kudos to Marin County and the State for their efforts!¬†

My "selfie" in front of the the site.
My “selfie” in front of the the site.(12-17-14)

 

 

10 thoughts on “Bessey Creek “Hybrid Wetland Treatment Project,” What’s That? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. Sounds like the government is trying to create a massive water treatment plant for the city of Miami and then dump excess treated drinking water into the lagoon.Read about Camelford water pollution incident. I wonder how much sulfuric acid will now enter the lagoon.If the lagoon was functioning the way it has for centuries the nutriants would become fish food instead of being preserved in acid like pickles are preserved in viniger.One more thing I would like to add is government should NEVER be allowed to give tax dollars to any media or public information source.Exspecially when they are 18 trillion in dept to forign powers !

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  2. Aluminum sulfate is used in sewage treatment plants.I have heard they allso make fertilizer from processed sewage. When I get a chance I am going to see if my metal detector can detect aluminum in fertilizer.

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  3. I watched a program on the history channel where women during ww2 would paint urainium on watch dials so they would glow at night. All the women who used their mouth to sharpen the point on the paint brush died. The detective proved it was urainium poisoning by putting their bones on photograph paper. The paper showed the urainium adheared to their calcium bones.There are different urainium salts that might adhear to plutonium and then maby to calcium chloride or aluminum sulfate.Then maby the meltdown going on at Fukushema power plant might be cleaned up. The one you never hear about by our government controlled media

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  4. You should have seen some of our(polluted) fresh water runoffs last spring.The menhaden minnows were as thick as soup. Fukushema should be front page news, then maby it would get the attention from the scientific community it needs to find real solutions

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  5. YES— Yesterday I ran into a guy at WalMart that I worked with when I helped build your hospital off Tradition bulivard.(3 years ago) The superintedant with the company is now retired in Grant( A fishing community near sebastion). Before the job was over I took the time to show him my photo album and exsplain things with him. This guy said my name was brought up at the last Christmas party. The former boss said Brent was right about the Lagoon. Grant used to employ thousands of people who dug clams for a living. You don’t know how good it makes me feel to think these job might come back.

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  6. A healthy human body has an average of 1% phosphorus .Phosphorus is essential for life.Its in DNA RNA and every cell in the body. !0% would be 100,000 parts per million(ppm) so 1% is 10,000 ppm, If a healthy human body needs 10,000 (ppm) then why does the Lagoon need only !0ppm. I think its because it is the best environment to dump sewage unnoticed. 30 pluss years ago every little movement made the lagoon glow at night. I now can prove that the ph was much higher then because phosphorus reacts with acid when you pour it in water containing phosphorus .Acidic water has now glow. Thanks for the hard work you put into your blog.I have allways loved history—exspecially the untold storys.

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