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