Land acquisition benefits lagoon restoration

Restoration of the Indian River Lagoon moved another step forward as the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board approved a 1,772-acre land acquisition in St. Lucie County. The site will be used in conjunction with other acquired lands for two storage reservoirs designed to improve the timing and quality of water flowing into the lagoon. When complete, the two reservoirs will provide approximately 92,000 acre-feet of water storage...

• South Florida Water Management District adds 1,772 acres in St. Lucie County for restoration projects

WEST PALM BEACH, FL, Dec. 20, 2007 -- Restoration of the Indian River Lagoon moved another step forward as the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board approved a 1,772-acre land acquisition in St. Lucie County. The site will be used in conjunction with other acquired lands for two storage reservoirs designed to improve the timing and quality of water flowing into the lagoon.

"The District's investment in this land is an important milestone in the restoration of the Indian River Lagoon," said Melissa Meeker, who represents the Treasure Coast on the SFWMD Governing Board. "The C-23/24 project is critical to capturing and treating water currently going to tide and impacting one of Florida's most important and beautiful estuaries."

When complete, the two reservoirs will provide approximately 92,000 acre-feet of water storage to capture water from the C-23 and C-24 canals before it flows into the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. An adjacent Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) will be built to improve water quality. Purchase of the 1,772-acre parcel completes the land acquisition necessary for the north (C-23) reservoir and achieves 80 percent of the land needed for the south (C-24) reservoir. All lands needed for construction of the 2,568-acre STA are in public ownership.

The District is investing $50.5 million over three years for the newest land parcel. The owner will turn over title to the land at the closing, which is scheduled for next month. SFWMD will then receive payments on the land while it remains in citrus production until construction of the reservoirs and STA begins.

The C-23 and C-24 reservoirs and treatment wetland are a part of the $1.365 billion plan to restore the Indian River Lagoon, a series of projects included in the state-federal partnership to restore America's Everglades. Federal participation in these restoration projects was recently authorized by Congress as part of the 2007 Water Resources Development Act.

The Indian River Lagoon-South restoration project will return historic flows of cleaner water across more than 90,000 acres of natural land spanning Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties. The plan includes construction and operation of 12,600 acres of inland reservoirs and 9,000 acres of pollution-filtering treatment marsh. The reservoirs and treatment marshes, which will provide approximately 170,000 acre-feet of water storage, will help to restore habitat, improve water quality and return a natural flow of fresh water to the St. Lucie and Indian River estuaries.

For additional information about the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, please visit www.evergladesplan.org

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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