C-43 reservoir work making progress

Massive pump station completed

Posted 12/19/23

FELDA – The long awaited C-43 reservoir could start storing water in time for the 2025 wet season.

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C-43 reservoir work making progress

Massive pump station completed


FELDA – The long awaited C-43 reservoir could start storing water in time for the 2025 wet season.

On Dec. 19, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) officials joined federal, state and local officials to celebrate the completion of the massive pump station which will feed the new reservoir, south of State Road 80.

The 10,700-acre reservoir will store up to 170,000 acre feet of water from the Caloosahatchee River via the Townsend Canal. It will be used to reduce high flows from local basin runoff and can also be used to capture releases from Lake Okeechobee as capacity allows.

Water stored during the wet season will be available to feed the Caloosahatchee River in the dry season, maintaining optimal flows to the Caloosahatchee estuary. The river needs some freshwater flow during the dry season to prevent the estuary from becoming too saline.

"Today is another massive step forward to further improve our waters here in Southwest Florida and support the restoration of America's Everglades," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman and Sanibel resident Chauncey Goss. "Southwest Florida knows how important our water quality is to our way of life, our estuary, and our local economy. Once this reservoir comes online, there will be billions of gallons of water storage available that will protect the delicate balance of fresh and salt water in the Caloosahatchee Estuary. We're grateful for the Governor's leadership and support from the Florida Legislature to build Everglades restoration projects like this across South Florida. Projects like these protect our environment and enhance the resiliency of our water resources for decades to come. Finishing this pump station is a big step forward to making this reservoir a reality."

"The Caloosahatchee (C-43) Reservoir has been many years in the making, and today is a significant, historic milestone for this massive project,” said Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo. “The momentum we have seen for this project under the leadership of Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Simpson, as well as Governor Scott and Senate President Negron, is truly amazing. In recent years, we have seen many large-scale projects come on-line, with more in the works. To me, what really stands out about these projects are the partnerships that bring them across the finish line. Local, state, and federal partners in city and county government, the Legislature, Governor and Cabinet, Water Management District, Congressional Leadership, the Army Corps – the list goes on. Only by working together can we accomplish these monumental feats of engineering, planning and construction. It is truly a wonder."

“The Department of Environmental Protection is proud to celebrate the completion of the Caloosahatchee (C-43) Reservoir Pump Station today with our partners at the South Florida Water Management District,” said Adam Blalock, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. “Thanks to the support of Governor Ron DeSantis and the Legislature, we’re working across the state to implement projects that support our state’s water resources. Under the Governor’s leadership, Florida continues making record investments in protecting our natural resources and conserving our way of life in Florida. The Department stands ready to continue expediting Everglades restoration and resiliency projects to further protect the natural resources that make Florida so special.”

The new pump station is the main inflow structure for the Caloosahatchee Reservoir. It has the capability to move more than 650,000 gallons of water per minute from the Caloosahatchee River into the reservoir using four large pumps. 

The project has made a lot of progress in the past six months, after the SFWMD fired the original contractors. The original contract was terminated in May.

“In 2019, when the governing board awarded the construction to C-43 Water Managers Builders Joint Venture (WMB), which is a joint venture with Lane Construction and WeBuild, with Lane being the contractor on the site,” SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett explained at the May 11 SFWMD Governing Board meeting.

“The contractor’s representative assured the governing board that they could get the job done on time for the price bid. Unfortunately, despite numerous engagements with the district, including a year ago before the governing board, the contractor continuously fell farther and farther behind schedule.

“The contractor was falling behind schedule an average of an additional 20 days for every one month on the job. That’s losing 20 days in 30 days. District staff, Chairman Goss and I engaged the contractor senior leadership numerous times to emphasize the importance of staying on schedule and still the contractor failed to make the necessary resource and management changes.

At the Dec. 19 event, construction manager John Creswell said since the SFWMD canceled the original contract, work on the project has been accelerated.

For example, in the first four years of the contract, the original contractors put in 8 miles of perimeter canal. In the past 6 months, they have put in 12 miles of canal. In four years, the original contractors put in 16,000 cubic yards of concrete. In the past six months, the new contractors have put in 7,000 cubic yards of concrete. The original contractors were averaging 92 feet of levee per day. The project is currently averaging 800 feet of levee per day.

Three hundred to 400 workers are on the project site each day, working round-the-clock six days a week.

The sides of the reservoir will be lined with soil concrete. The bottom of the reservoir will be lined with clay. A seepage wall within the dike will prevent water from moving through the earthen berm .

“There have been some bumps in the road,” said Hendry County Commission Chair Emma Byrd. She said federal, state and local officials are working together. “We all want the same thing,” she said. “We all want clean water.”

Hendry County Commissioner Karson Turner was proud to see the “trash rakes” which will remove debris from the water before it is pumped into the reservoir, were manufactured at D&J Manufacturing in Clewiston. He said while the loss of the citrus grove which was previously on the property hurt the local economy, the reservoir project is an economic driver for the area. He said the reservoir will be a “game changer” for the Caloosahatchee River, because it will be a tool water managers can use to prevent high volume freshwater discharges that damage the estuary.

About the C-43 reservoir

Located on 10,700 acres of former farmland in Hendry County, west of LaBelle, the Caloosahatchee River West Basin Storage (C-43) Reservoir will hold approximately 170,000 acre-feet of water, with the maximum depth ranging from 15 feet to 25 feet across the expanse. When complete, the restoration project will provide storage needed for the estuary by capturing and storing local basin runoff as well as Lake Okeechobee regulatory releases. This will reduce lake discharges reaching the Caloosahatchee estuary, improve the health of the Caloosahatchee Estuary revitalizing fish and oyster habitats by reducing the frequency of undesirable salinity ranges.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the total cost of the project at $903,700,000.

FORT DENAUD -- State, local and federal officials celebrated the completion of the pump station for the C-43 reservoir on Dec. 19. Pictured from left to right area Commissioner Ramon Iglesias, Hendry County; Commissioner Hugo Vargas, City of LaBelle; Commissioner Emory "Rowdy" Howard, Hendry County; Vice Chair Mitchell Wills, Hendry County; Chairperson Emma Byrd, Hendry County; Chairman Chauncey Goss, SFWMD; Rep. Adam Botana; President Kathleen Passidomo, Florida Senate; Director Drew Bartlett, SFWMD; Sen. Jonathan Martin; Board Member Charlette Roman, SFWMD; Councilwoman Holly Smith, City of Sanibel; Commissioner Karson Turner, Hendry County; Mayor Julie Wilkins, City of LaBelle; Deputy Secretary Adam Blalock, DEP; Maj. Cory Bell, USACE - Jacksonville District; Board Member Ben Butler, SFWMD.
FORT DENAUD -- State, local and federal officials celebrated the completion of the pump station for the C-43 reservoir on Dec. 19. Pictured from left …

C-43 reservoir, water storage, caloosahatchee river, estuary