Tag Archives: EAA Reservoir STA

EAA Reservoir/STA, Modern Progress and a Real Reason for Hope

-Looking towards a future where progress means water flowing south. EAA Reservoir /STA 2021. Photo credit, Libby Pigman, SFWMD. What do they say? “There is no stopping progress!” And the definition of progress changes throughout the ages…

Monday, February 15, 2021, was an Everglades “progress” inspiration for me. The last time I had visited this area was October of 2019. There were vast sugar fields as far as the eye could see. Today, the area is a field of dreams, a goal of collective effort, the lynchpin for sending more water south and significantly alleviating  a hundred years of destruction to the Northern Everglades: St Lucie, Caloosahtchee, and often Lake Worth Lagoon.

The trip to the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir/Stormwater Treatment Area is an experience in and of itself. The District is in charge of building the giant marsh or Stormwater Treatment Area (STA.) South Florida Water Management District  Communications Director, Sean Cooley and I met as the sun rose, and then drove west in a truck from South Florida Water Management District Headquarters through West Palm Beach and the Everglades Agricultural Area, to meet Regional Representative Libby Pigman and Hendry County Commissioner, Carson Turner – who chairs the powerful 16 County Coalition. I have known Commissioner Turner since 2008 and it was fantastic to see him. He is a wealth of knowledge and perspective that I very much appreciate. 

The highlight of the day? Because of my SFWMD Governing Board status, I was allowed to push the button to detonate the dynamite blast. Not really my cup of tea, but it was exciting! And oh my gosh, the shells! Boring 18 feet into the cap rock, thousands of years of ancient earth and shell come to surface.  

As we walked through the piles of rock and shell after the blast, I thought about how this area was once the flooded southern sawgrass plains leading to the Ridge and Slough and Shark River Slough, rising to replenish Florida Bay. I envisioned millions of beautiful wading birds and rookeries doting the spectacular and rare landscape. I thought of how in the name of “progress” humankind drained and destroyed the Everglades. I thought about how priorities change over time. I smiled thinking about how the EAA Reservoir and Storm Water Treatment Area is a real reason for hope, an attempt to return a connection to this sacred River of Grass. In the name of modern progress let’s keep going! For the birds, for the wildlife, for our children, indeed, for all of us. 

Enjoy the photos and blast videos! And thank you to SFWMD staff and RYAN for the tour. -Map of EAA Reservoir/STA. Our location A-2 STA, C-623

*Click here for February 2021 SFWMD EAA Reservoir/STA  construction details and update: Bill_20210216_0001

-A red-eared slider turtle greets us at the gate! “Hurry up…” he says!  -“We want the STA” cried  the wading birds! “We need an upgrade!” -We arrive at the EAA STA construction worksite. -David Anderson, RYAN inspector, reviews safely and the day.-Comr. Turner and I look at a map. Carson shares perspective. I learned a lot. -Amid EAA STA construction: David Anderson, RYAN Inspector; Libby Pigman, Regional Rep, SFWMD, Sean Cooley, Communications Dir. SFWMD, Carson Turner, Hendry County Comr. Dist. 5, JTL GB SFWMD.-Site of detonation that will be part of an intake canal system for the EAA STA (pink highlighter pen, upper left corner, on above map shows approximate location). -Muck, ancient deteriorated sawgrass, scraped from cap rock and piled up will be re-laid after construction in STA for plant growth that will filter the water before it goes to the reservoir.-Ancient shells. Florida is of course, an ancient sea…The Everglades is estimated to be “only” 6000 years old.-Dynamite container bored 18 feet into rock. -RYAN’S Mahmound Khalaifa saw I was looking for shells so he showed me what he had found! Ancient coral head and various bivalves. Beautiful! -More review on safety and blast from true professionals.-JTL prepares to hit the button! 

  1. CLICK HERE FOR AWESOME MOVIE #1 OF DYNAMITE BLAST CREATING THE INTAKE CANAL EAA STA 2021.
  2. CLICK HERE FOR MOVIE #2 EAA STA BLAST 2021  – JTL SCREAMING WITH DELIGHT!

POST BLAST

-Sean Cooley, Communications Director SFWMD and Comr. Turner walk carefully amid the mountainous post-blast site. -Carson Turner & JTL pose for the camera. Jacqui is finding fossils and cool rocks.-Carson found an ancient coral head and gifted it to me. Thank you Comr. Turner! -Driving a short distance from the blast site one sees the infamous “pyramids” against the horizon. This is rock that has been crushed and ground down. It will be used to create the canal edges and levees. Nothing on site is wasted. -Final explanations, questions, and wrap-up! A great day! Rock crusher in background.-The road home …-Treasures from the Earth… Thank you Everglades….-General location of EAA Reservoir STA on Google Maps. It lies between the Miami and New River Canals. The perfect place to reconnect! 

More photos of EAA Reservoir’s STA blast canal digging with explanations, January 2021, TCPalm, photographer, Leah Voss article Max Chesnes.

 

 

Getting to the EAA Reservoir

At the end of a long journey, SFWMD Jennifer Leeds, Interim Division Director Ecosystems Restoration & Capital Projects, and JTL stand before the future location of the EAA Reservoir’s Storm Water Treatment Area, 10-18-19.

The initial goal of my South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) field trip was to tour Storm Water Treatment Area (STA) 3/4 and the A1 Flow Equalization Basin (FEB). When I saw the location, I asked if it would be possible to also see the A-2 lands to the west that will become the EAA Reservoir.

Later on, I realized that although the future site of the EAA Reservoir “wasn’t that far away,” it certainly wasn’t easy to get to!

After a long and bumpy truck ride atop levees and back roads we arrived. I was led by two talented South Florida Water Management staff: Ms. Jennifer Leeds, Interim Division Director of Ecosystem Restoration, and Mr. LeRoy Rodgers, Lead Invasive Species Biologist both respected experts in their fields.

After leaving SFWMD Headquarters in West Palm Beach, our first stop was STA 3/4. Tracey Piccone, Chief Consulting Engineer of Water Quality, and Nathan Ralph, STA 3/4 Site Coordinator provided an airboat tour through open areas that were once cattails. Since 2007, the cattails in the northern part of the STA are slowly dying off. This is of great concern to Tracy and Nathan as the cattails are what clean the nutrient rich water leaving the Everglades Agricultural Area. Under certain circumstances, water from Lake Okeechobee is also sent through this STA as well. Strict laws 1994 Everglades Forever Act laws require the exiting water to meet water quality standards before being sent south to Everglades National Park. The scientists spoke to me about resting, replanting, and diversifying the vegetation. I asked how we can send more water south…

It’s complicated. STAs are living systems, not machines. In fact, this 16,300 acres in western Palm Beach County is the largest constructed wetland in the world!

STA 3/4: https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/wq-stas
A1 FEB: https://www.sfwmd.gov/recreation-site/a1-flow-equalization-basin
Rotenberger and Hoely Land Wildlife Management Areas/Invasive Species: https://bugwoodcloud.org/mura/ECISMA/assets/File/summit10/7A-SFWMD_FWC.pdf
EAA Reservoir: https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/cerp-project-planning/eaa-reservoir

Tracey Piccone, Chief Consulting Engineer Water Quality, JTL, and LeRoy Rodgers Lead Invasive Species Biologist STA 3/4.

Map of STA 3/4 showing where vegetation is absent and present.

Nathan Ralph, STA 3/4 Site Coordinator provided an airboat tour

Airboat video:

STA 3/4

Video Mr Rodgers speaks on STA vegetation:

LeRoy Rodgers show bullrush a plant that can root in deeper waters

Tracy Piccone discussed water quality standards

Poster inside pump house G-370

Inside pump house G-370. It was cleaner than my house!

After the tour of STA 3/4, we focused north and I could see the glistening 15,000 acres of plants and shallow waters known as the A1 FEB,  a “giant triangle” always easy to locate on a map. Once the Tailsman Sugar Company, this land now functions as a Flow Equalization Basin stabilizing the waters coming in from the Everglades Agricultural Area before they go through STA 3/4.

As we drove, I tried to note the markings of multiple bird species.  I was so happy to see birdlife in spite of how drastically humankind has altered this once pristine landscape. It is said that today’s wading bird population is down 90% from the days this wetland was an unobstructed “River of Grass.” As we approached, birds flew off in every direction and I thought about Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and others who forged this restoration path.

A1 FEB

After the STA 3/4 and A1 FEB tour, we drove north. Sprawling Holey Land Wildlife Management Area was on our left and the A1 FEB on our right. I asked why it was so flat and treeless. “Over the years the tree islands have washed away and been damaged,” was the reply.

We drove in silence.

Size here is Grand Canyon like and it was difficult for me to judge where we were.  Suddenly, we took a sharp left. Jennifer Leeds smiled saying: “We’re here…” I climbed out of the truck.

Standing on a levee looking over both fallow and producing sugarcane fields, I stared out to the horizon. I felt my eyes tear over as it hit me that this was the land. The land that one day soon will become the EAA Reservoir.

“This was Senate President Joe Negron’s fight, this is our fight…” I thought to myself. Getting to the EAA Reservoir…

Though my husband Ed has flown me over the A2 lands multiple times, seeing them from the ground was much more convincing. If I’d had a River Warrior Flag I would have staked it in the ground. Instead, I smiled and took a picture. 🙂

Red=approximate EAA Reservoir STA; Yellow=EAA Reservoir ~ future location

Future area of the EAA Reservoir

Video – A2 lands growing sugarcane that are to become the EAA Reservoir

Jennifer Leeds, Interim Division Director Ecosystems Restoration & Capital Projects, and JTL stand before the future area of the EAA Reservoir’s Storm Water Treatment Area. This will be the first dirt turned! 10-18-19.