Above: L-R Stephen Leighton, Mast Chief of Staff; David Rowe, Assist. Superintendent Okeechobee Field Station; JTL, SFWMD GB; LeRoy Rodgers, SFWMD STA Section Leader; Congressman Brian Mast; Bruce Chesser, Okeechobee Field Station Superintendent; Alan Shirkey, SFWMD Construction Bureau Chief, -stand before TMC
On Thursday, March 24, 2022, Congressman Brian Mast was given a tour of Ten Mile Creek Reservoir and Storm Water Treatment Area, St Lucie County, by the South Florida Water Management District. Ten Mile Creek (TMC) is part of the northern reaches of the St Lucie River lying southwest of Ft Pierce. The area is part of the 18th District and Congressman Mast wanted an update on “TMC” and to learn what it is doing, NOW, for the St Lucie River. For those of us who have lived in the region for a long time, we know Ten Mile Creek had big problems. Thankfully, the reservoir and storm water treatment (STA) area has a new life today overseen by the SFWMD!
The story goes like this: TMC is a pre CERP project. Congress authorized the Army Corp of Engineer’s “Ten Mile Creek” project in 1996; by 2006 funds had been appropriated and construction was completed. Almost immediately, the project suffered major structural and design setbacks and sat excrusiatingly in a “passive operation state” through lawsuits and finger-pointing -between the Corps and designers- through 2016. At that point, it was de-authorized by the Army Corp, and to the tune of seven-million dollars, taken over and reworked by the South Florida Water Management District.
The big NOW take aways from the visit were:
- Bruce Chesser, Field Station Superintendent, shared that pump stations S-382 and S-383 are in fine shape and there is a good working relationship with the North St Lucie River Water Control District that oversees the Gordy Road Structure of Ten Mile Creek proper.
- Alan Shirkey, SFWMD Engineering and Construction Bureau Chief, reviewed the work completed including scraping and replacing the bottom of the reservoir and re-grating the storm water treatment area, thus both are now safely functional. On average, 17,444 acre feet of water are cleansed.
- The 526 acre reservoir holds up to four feet of water (though not 11 feet as originally envisioned by ACOE) with major water quality improvements through the 132 acre STA. When asked by Congressman Mast, LeRoy Rodgers, STA Section Leader noted that phosphorus is being lowered from around 200 parts per billion to 20 parts per billion. This is great news! Mind you this is about 5-10% of all the water coming into the St Lucie River from Ten Mile Creek. The original plan was for 25%. Nonetheless, it is significant and will be added to once the C-23 and C24 Reservoir and STA is built.
- Wildlife is thriving! Many bird species visit the area including endangered Snail Kites.
- I am grateful for the South Florida Water Management District (2016-present) as they truly make “lemonade out of lemons!”
~PHOTOS OF OUR FIELD TRIP
-Bruce Chesser, Okeechobee Field Station Superintendent and Congressman Mast discuss the operations of pump station S-382 that brings in water from the TMC basin. This basin was once grapefruit county, but not today. Creekside is building hundred of homes nearby. -TMC Basin in purple-Alan Shirkey gave a great construction briefing on what the SFWMD has done to make the reservoir function safely-We took a driving tour around the reservoir. Never have I seen so many cormorants! See photo below. Many other birds were present, but the cormorants were in large groups, like ducks! -Video tour from top of levee around reservoir
-Note the landfill -on Turnpike-in the background, another bird haven!-The stairs of the original reservoir BELOW were a bad part of the design! You may have read about the FRESH WATER TURTLES that got stuck on these stairs unable to exit the reservoir as vultures waited nearby. See page 9 of ACOE Environmental Assessment Ten Mile Creek Water Preserve Areas, Critical Projects Transfer, St Lucie County. Today the turtles are in the surrounding wetlands laying eggs and swimming around, the reservoir is too low to be of interest. -Looking across reservoir to S-382-The S-383 structure brings water from the reservoir to the STA where it is cleansed by plants before it released back to the North Fork of the St Lucie River-LeRoy Rodgers and Congressman Mast discuss plants used in the STA process as well as working with US Fish & Wildllife regarding endangered species-More cormorants! They sure look like ducks!
-Reservoir (west)-STA (east)-A big smile from Stephen Leighton, Chief of Staff!” We want clean water NOW!” -THANK YOU FOR VISITING TMC CONGRESSMAN MAST! You do a great job protecting the St Lucie River! -Right outside of the Ten Mile Creek reservoir and storm water treatment area lies Ten Mile Creek Preserve and the Gordy Road Water Structure that is controlled by the North St Lucie River Water Control District. A beautiful place. Like “Old Florida.” You can visit! -Gordy Road Structure, TMC