On Friday, October 25, Gov. Ron DeSantis arrived in LaBelle, among environmentalists and government officials, to ceremonially break ground on the long-awaited C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir, a major component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
Calling the groundbreaking a “great reason to celebrate,” DeSantis spoke briefly, outlining the purpose of this massive project- which is to hopefully provide solutions to the multitude of problems that have been wreaking havoc on our Caloosahatchee River and Estuary.
Construction of the 19 miles of earthen levees began in June 2019, while other project features such as the inflow pump station, embankments, and perimeter canals are scheduled to be completed by 2023. The C-43 Reservoir, a $523 billion project that is located just south of the Caloosahatchee River, taking place of what used to be the old Berry Groves, will store approximately 55 billion gallons of water, contained by 19 miles of embankments, and will be managed through 15 miles of canals.
It will help by capturing and storing excess basin run off and releases from Lake Okeechobee, managing local agricultural water supplies, and helping with maintaining proper salinity levels while sustaining a healthy nursery for our native fish in the estuary.
Spanning 10,700 acres south of the Caloosahatchee River, the reservoir is not just part of an overall solution to improve water quality and reduce the harm caused by Lake Okeechobee discharges, it will also eventually be a recreational area. Miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, public parking areas, a boat launch, canoeing and kayaking facilities, shelters, restrooms, and an equestrian area with its own parking, paddock, and wash racks are also in the project’s plan.