'Clean and Green': Using plants to clean up water in Florida's Everglades

Oct. 22, 2007
Sometimes it's better to let nature do the work. That's what scientists at the South Florida Water Management District are doing. Instead of building energy-hungry treatment facilities or pouring treatment chemicals into the State's natural waterways, they have found the answer to clean water for the Everglades growing right under their feet. Constructed wetlands, abundantly green with native plants such as cattail and Southern naiad, now cover 52,000 acres of former farmland in south-central...

• Roseate Spoonbill enjoys water in STA STA's provide perfect habitat for wildlife in South Florida

Oct. 18, 2007 -- Sometimes it's better to let nature do the work. That's what scientists at the South Florida Water Management District are doing. Instead of building energy-hungry treatment facilities or pouring treatment chemicals into the State's natural waterways, they have found the answer to clean water for the Everglades growing right under their feet.

Constructed wetlands, abundantly green with native plants such as cattail and Southern naiad, now cover 52,000 acres of former farmland in south-central Florida, not far from Everglades National Park and the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Regional water managers send surface-water runoff through these wetlands, known as Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs), to remove excess nutrients, such as phosphorus, that are harmful to the Everglades ecosystem. Since the first STA was constructed by the South Florida Water Management District in 1994, the green technology of these vast wetlands has efficiently retained almost a thousand tons of phosphorus, preventing it from ever reaching Everglades waters. The shallow, plant-filled impoundments are part of the State's investment of $1.8 billion in water quality improvements for the Everglades.

Next week, the public will have an opportunity to see the green technology of a treatment wetland at work, as 6,000 additional acres of Stormwater Treatment Areas are brought into full operation. SFWMD scientists, environmental engineers and water managers will be available to describe STA construction, operations and water quality results. The success of using a green technology -- the natural biological processes of plants -- to help with the work of Everglades restoration will be highlighted. As always, wildlife is abundant in these rural, wetland environments, which provide habitat to alligators, wading birds, hawks, fish, deer and the occasional Florida panther.

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007
TIME: 9:30 AM
WHERE: STA 2 in Palm Beach County
WHO: Invited speakers include Florida State Representative Richard Machek, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Chair, Eric Buermann, and Deputy Director for Audubon of Florida, Eric Draper.

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state - 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys.

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