MOORE HAVEN – South Florida Water Management District welcomes Glades County’s input into plans for the Boma water storage feature to be located near the Hendry County line, Libby Pigman of SFWMD at the Jan. 25 meeting of the Glades County Commission.
The property is located on State Road 80 near the Hendry County line.
The land has been purchased for quite a number of years, Pigman explained. “They are looking at a point where they are designing a project.”
She said SFWMD hopes to have the design for a shallow water storage feature completed within two years. They envision a shallow storage feature with a maximum depth of about 4 feet, she explained.
Pigman encouraged the commissioners to visit the A-2 FEB (flow equalization basin) south of Lake Okeechobee to get an idea what kind of recreational features could be included in the project.
She said they would like to engage the Glades County Commissioners in a dialog in regard to recreational features that could be added to the project.
She said these water storage areas attract birds and fish. Recreation projects could include running trails, walking trails or a boardwalk going out into the feature.
During the pandemic, people have been using the recreational features on public land a lot more than they have in the past, she explained. She said, for example, the walking trail around the Taylor Creek Stormwater Treatment Area in Okeechobee County attracts 30,000 visitors a year.
Pigman said SFWMD will also consider selling a parcel with frontage on SR 80 for commercial development in front of the water storage feature. She said if there is a recreational component, they will need to set aside sufficient frontage space for an entrance and public parking, but part of the frontage along State Road 80 could be sold for development which would add to the Glades County tax roll.
“We could use this (frontage) land in the project but we also realize commercial development is important for the community,” she said.
If they decide to surplus a frontage parcel, “we want to make sure what we surplus is usable under Glades County Land Development Regulations,” she said.
She said they tried to surplus the frontage property in 2018 and did not receive a responsive bid.
The 1,766-acre property south of the Ortona Locks was purchased by SFWMD from the Boma Corporation in 2007 for $37 million, with Lee County chipping in $10 million of the purchase price. The plan calls for water to be pumped from the Caloosahatchee River into the shallow storage area where vegetation will remove nutrients from the water before the water is returned to the river.
Pigman was unsure just how much property the shallow reservoir project will require.