Tag Archives: C-44 STA and Reservoir

Seeing Results, C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area/Reservoir, St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon

This aerial shows where the C-44 STA/R. project's intake canal has been built to the right of Indiantown Airport. The immense lands beyond and east of this area will become the STA and Reservoir.
This aerial shows the area of the future almost 10,000 acres that will become the C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area and Reservoir. A landmark of this area is Indiantown Airport, a grass strip located above and north-east of the lake in this photo. So far the C-44 STA/R. project’s four mile intake canal has been built. The immense lands beyond, east, north and west of this area will become the STA and Reservoir.

I spend a good amount of time studying the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon; nonetheless,  I am constantly amazed to learn what I don’t know. In a nutshell, the C-44 storm water treatment and reservoir is part of the Indian River Lagoon South Project to clean up the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon by storing and cleaning water from our huge C-44 basin.

The project  is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and even though I have read about it for years, I did not know how or the order of it being built. Today I will share my experience in learning just the beginning.

(http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_07_irl_south.aspx).

To look back a bit for the history, building the C-44 storm water treatment area and reservoir is combined effort of many years of work of local, state and federal governments and it is one of the most expensive water projects being built in the Florida, with an estimated costs of almost 4 million to complete.  

I wanted to SEE this because it is so hard to understand  it all.

So a few weeks ago my husband Ed, and his friend Shawn and I are flying over this area and I’m saying “where is it? It’s supposed to be here. I want to take some pictures. Hmmm? I don’t see anything…I was expected a big lake like thing off of the C-44 canal or something.”

Ed calmly, says: ” This is it Jacqui. Over the past years the ACOE has been working hard to build this new intake canal. We have seen it for years as we fly over. It must be built first probably; you can see the results.”

So we flew north over the four mile intake canal that finally stopped in a wilderness of agricultural lands.

Intake canal on east, agricultural lands on west.
Intake canal on east, agricultural lands on west.
End of canal.
End of intake canal.

The intake canal was completed in July of 2014 at of cost of 28 million dollars. This is huge accomplishment and this is only the beginning. This is what we can SEE so far.

So what will we SEE in the future?

To get an idea as seen below, the FPL cooling pond off the east coast of Lake Okeechobee is 5,000 acres. The C-44 STA/R. will be almost 10,000 acres. So in the future, when one looks at a Google Maps, there will be another gigantic lake looking thing consisting of the STA (6300 acres) and the reservoir (3, 400 acres) east, north and west of the Indiantown Airport, the red dot below.

Area from Lake O following C-44 canal to St lucie River in Stuart.
Area from Lake O following C-44 canal to St Lucie River in Stuart.
Indiantown Airport
Indiantown Airport along C-44 canal.
Map
Map of C-44 STA/R black. Basin in pink.
Map
Engineering map from ACOE/SFWMD showing where the cells of the C-44 STA/R. will be.

The monies and energy needed to build the C-44 STA and reservoir is and has been tremendous.  In spite of one’s political affiliations or the project itself, we must recognize those who have recently helped ensure the success of the project: the SFWMD, the ACOE, Senator Joe Negron, Governor Scott, Congressman Murphy, the Martin County Commission and the public. I am sure there are many others that I do not know. This gigantic project has taken many years and has been no easy feat. Kudos to the decades of people who have worked to make this first step of the intake canal possible. I recognize your efforts.

Yes it is good to be positive, the C-44 STA and Reservoir is a great start, but it is important to also realize that the resovoir will hold about 50,000 acre feet of water. During some storm seasons we get much more than that just from the C-44 basin alone, and that is NOT counting releases from Lake Okeechobee.

We have a lot more work to do, to get to where we want to be, but finally we are beginning to SEE RESULTS of something getting built to help improve water quality, and that is something more than Martin County has ever seen before in its long fight to save its treasured St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

_____________________________________________

 

Video C-44 Project (http://www.tmba.tv/broadcastanimation/everglades-restoration/everglades-restoration/)

ACOE 2011: (http://www.sfrestore.org/tf/minutes/2011_meetings/27oct11/IRLS-C44RSTA_TF_27Oct2011.pdf)

SFWMD WRAC 2006 presentation C-44 STA/R. (https://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_wrac/portlet_subtab_wrac_archive_reportsdocs/tab772049/wrac_090606_c44_ray.pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the Difference Between C-44 Basin Runoff and Lake Okeechobee Releases along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon?

The S-80 structure at St Lucie Locks and Dam. C-44 canal in background goes to Lake Okeechobee. (Photo Scott Kuhns, 2013)
The S-80 structure at St Lucie Locks and Dam. C-44 canal in background goes miles to Lake Okeechobee where the S-308 structure is located at the eastern edge of Lake O. (Photo Scott Kuhns, 2013)
Basins whose water runoff flows into the St Lucie River, note C-44 south. (SFWMD, 1999.)
Drainage basins into the St Lucie River, note C-44 south. (SFWMD, 1999.)

The locks are back in the news again. WPTV, “hard working for the river reporter,” Jana Eschbach, broke the story yesterday, that the Army Corp of Engineers did not alert the public that they would be releasing polluted canal, C-44 basin water through the S-80 structure into the St Lucie River. Jana, like most people, feels that the public should be alerted when polluted water will be coming into the estuary in that we swim and fish. She is also concerned the water in the area of Palm City and the Roosevelt Bridge, which has been reported to have high levels of bacteria, will be pushed to the popular Sandbar area.

Video WPTV: (http://www.cbs12.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_16935.shtml?fb_action_ids=10204339758793609&fb_action_types=og.comments&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582)

This can be confusing. Don’t we just care about lake water? Also, if the locks are open, doesn’t that mean the ACOE is releasing Lake Okeechobee water? Not necessarily, and the basin water can be just as damaging to the estuary and the public. So how does releasing basin or lake water work? 

There are two structures along the C-44 canal which runs along the side of Highway 76 from the South Fork of the St Lucie River, to Lake Okeechobee: S-308 at the edge of  Lake Okeechobee, and S-80, 20 miles or so, east, at the St Lucie Locks and Dam.

This ACOE canal and structure map shows S-308 at Lake O. and S-80 20 miles east.
This ACOE canal and structure map shows S-308 at Lake O. and S-80 along the C-44 inland.

S-80 serves duel purposes. First to release water through Lake Okeechobee, but only if S-308, at the lake, is open first, allowing water into the C-44 canal. Then S-80 lets the water pour into the St Lucie River.

Second, S-80 can be opened just to allow water from the C-44  to flow into the St Lucie River, as the C-44 canal is surrounded by a 185 square mile basin, mostly agriculture, that has been directed to flow into the canal when it rains. Agriculture also uses this water in the C-44 canal to water their crops. To make things more confusing, C-44 can “deliver” local basin runoff in both directions: to Lake Okeechobee and to the St Lucie Estuary. The ACOE decides where the water “needs” to go by opening  and closing the structures of S-308 and S-80.

It must be noted that the  water from the C-44 basin is polluted, as is the water from Lake Okeechobee. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection writes: “…the construction of the C-44 canal has had the greatest impact of the St Lucie Estuary–and nearly all of that impact has been bad, FDEP 2001.) The charts below show how much nitrogen and phosphorus come into the river from the C-44 and other basins. C-44 is the highest.  Phosphorus and nitrogen mostly from fertilizer, feed toxic algae blooms in the hot summer months.

Chart shows amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into the SLR. Note C-44 basin is the highest. (SFWMD, 1995.)
Similar charts shows amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into the SLR. Note C-44 basin is the highest. (SFWMD, 1995.)

photo 3

Fortunately, there is good news due to the help of our local, state and federal governments. The almost 3 billion dollar “C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area/Reservoir” has received first stage fundings and is under construction in Indiantown. It has been since 2011. This reservoir will hold the release water from the C-44 basin and clean it before it is returned to the St Lucie River. This is a huge positive, although it will not stop the releases from Lake Okeechobee.

An educated public is the best defense against the continued destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Thank you for being part of the solution and hopefully, next time, the ACOE opens any structure for any reason, they will alert the public, because here in Martin and St Lucie counties, we want to know!

________________________________________________

Cool video SFWMD C-44 STA/R. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BsC0BoIPJ4)SFWMD (http://www.hdrinc.com/portfolio/c-44-reservoir-stormwater-treatment-area-project)

FDEP C-44 Canal: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)