This may just look like a swamp but it’s actually a very sophisticated stormwater treatment area in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) which is one of several designed to remove phosphorus from urban and agricultural runoff. These public works projects are the second point of cleanup for the water, while the farmers are the first point.
The 2014 CTIC Conservation in Action tour spent some time learning about these specially constructed wetlands areas from folks with the South Florida Water Management District on our first stop. Over the past 20 years, phosphorus concentrations in water heading for the Everglades have been reduced from 170 part per billion to less than 20.
SFWMD Water Resources Division Director Terrie Bates gives an overview of the STA system, how it works in conjunction with farmers’ best management practices, and how really successful it has been. [wpaudio url=”http://www.zimmcomm.biz/ctic/ctic-14-1-bates.MP3″ text=”Terrie Bates, SWFMC Water Resources Division Director”]
SFWMD environmental scientist Delia Ivanhoff explains some of the details of how the STAs actually work to reduce phosphorus from runoff water. One of the points she made was that the STAs process the equivalent of 200 million swimming pools worth of water each year. [wpaudio url=”http://www.zimmcomm.biz/ctic/ctic-14-delia.MP3″ text=”Delia Ivanhoff, SWFMC environmental scientist”]
Malcolm “Bubba” Wade has worked for the US Sugar Corporation since 1977 and currently serves as chairman of the board for the EAA protection district. He talked from the farmers’ perspective aout the success of the Best Management Practices program in the EAA. [wpaudio url=”http://www.zimmcomm.biz/ctic/ctic-14-bubba.MP3″ text=”Bubba Wade, US Sugar Corp.”]
Finally, we heard from Lawrence Gerry, STA coordinator for the SFWMD, who gave an overview of the created wetlands and how it all works together with varying hydrology, vegetation and wildlife. “These are probably the most highly managed treatment wetlands in the world,” said Larry. We got Larry on video to show you what it looks like: