Florida water treatment park recognized for engineering excellence

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• Naples, Fla., water treatment park designed by CH2M HILL will reduce pollutants and ease flooding concerns while providing a functional, beautiful recreational area

DENVER, CO, Jan. 19, 2010 -- Freedom Park, a water quality park located in Naples, Fla., was featured in the December issue of Southwest Construction magazine as winner of the publication's Award of Excellence for Best Engineering in the Civil/Public Works category.

"We're delighted to be recognized for our design work on this project," says CH2M HILL Client Service Manager Bill Gramer. "We knew from the moment we started developing the concepts that this would be a truly unique project, one that would leave a lasting impression on all park visitors and one that our firm would be especially proud to be associated with."

CH2M HILL, working for the Collier County Board of County Commissioners, designed the water treatment park to help save the Naples Bay from harmful pollutants and alleviate flooding problems in surrounding areas.

For more than a decade, Naples Bay has been subject to increased pollutant loading as a result of extensive land development in the county. This development also has caused a rise in the volume of stormwater runoff, leading to the flooding in areas within the Gordon River Basin.

At 50-acres, Freedom Park is a natural water quality treatment facility. The manmade park features an interconnected system of multi-depth ponds, polishing marshes and restored wetlands that function as a natural filtration system similar to the Everglades. Water is cleaned as it travels through both manmade and natural wetlands. CH2M HILL was responsible for engineering, planning, permitting, and architectural design for the park.

"Through a system of created lakes and wetlands the park will help reduce neighborhood flooding and help clean runoff before it flows into the Gordon River and eventually Naples Bay," says CH2M HILL project natural treatment scientist Jim Bays.

The park also will provide a number of recreational and educational uses. Park amenities include a 5-acre lake and 12 acres of constructed wetlands, with approximately 6,500 feet of trails including 3,500 feet of boardwalk were constructed throughout the park. Other amenities include a 2,500 square-foot educational facility with restrooms, six lookout pavilions, water fountains, and walking trails. Natural wetlands were restored by removal of non-native plants and supplemented with native species. About 20 acres of native upland habitat formerly in citrus groves were restored and are preserved as an on-site habitat reserve. Educational and informational signage is in the process of being developed and will be installed soon.

"A variety of wildlife can be discovered including a family of otters, great blue herons, little blue herons, snowy egrets, red-shouldered hawks, green herons, white ibis, anhingas, owls, and pileated woodpeckers," says Collier County Stormwater Management's Project Manager Margaret Bishop. "In building the park, exotic species were removed and many indigenous plants were added including 8,000 golden canna, 600 bald cypress, 1,300 water lily and more than 600 leather ferns," Bishop adds.

Crews worked for 17 months to build the park at a cost of $10.3 million. The park also is the future home for the Freedom Memorial, a community-backed project to remember the heroes of 9/11. A 6-foot long, 660-pound piece of the World Trade Center, which was on display during the grand opening ceremony, will one day be housed permanently at the Freedom Park visitor center.

Headquartered near Denver, Colo., employee-owned CH2M HILL is a global leader in engineering, procurement, construction, management and operations for government, civil, industrial and energy clients. With $6.4 billion in revenue and more than 25,000 employees, CH2M HILL is an industry-leading program management, construction management and design firm, as ranked by Engineering News-Record (2009). The firm's work is concentrated in the areas of energy, water, transportation, environmental, nuclear and industrial facilities. The firm has long been recognized as a most-admired company and leading employer, including being named by FORTUNE as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For (2009). Visit www.ch2mhill.com

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