INDIANTOWN -- On Nov. 19, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District (USACE) and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) hosted a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the ceremonial filling of the Indian River Lagoon- South C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area.
“We are here with our outstanding partners at the South Florida Water Management District to cut the ribbon and celebrate the ceremonial filling of the C-44 Reservoir,” said Col. James Booth, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander.
“Early in our administration, Governor DeSantis outlined our vision for our environment. Today, we are proud to fulfill that vision by announcing the completion of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area project, which will now provide more than 60,000-acre-feet of new water storage,” Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez said. “This is the largest Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project ever completed. Governor DeSantis and I will continue our commitment in protecting our natural resources and treasures.”
“We’re proud to celebrate the completion of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area as part of our significant efforts to advance the restoration of America’s Everglades,” said Chauncey Goss, Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board. “The State of Florida, under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, will continue its strong commitment to expediting Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects while supporting additional efforts to reduce harmful estuary discharges and restore flow to the Everglades.”
“The completion of the C-44 reservoir is another inspiring example of Everglades Restoration partnerships, success and progress. This project brings us another step closer to a healthy and resilient Everglades ecosystem. said Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, the U.S. Department of the Interior. “The restoration of ecosystems, landscapes and watersheds is among the most important work we can do to we tackle the climate crisis.”
“Today marks another advancement for restoration of America’s Everglades,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “The bold vision and leadership of Governor DeSantis and critical partnerships, like with the water management district and the Army Corps, will allow us to continue to expedite Everglades restoration and reach milestones like the ribbon cutting we are here to celebrate today. This critical project will revitalize habitat in the Indian River Lagoon, help restore the balance of fresh and salt water in the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Estuary, and provide significant water quality improvements.”
“Everglades restoration is the single most important ecological project for the State of Florida and it has long been a top priority of mine,” said Senator Marco Rubio. “Today’s ribbon cutting for the C-44 Project represents a milestone for Everglades restoration. It is a project that will make a real difference to the health of the Indian River Lagoon and the quality of life for people in South Florida. I am proud of the progress we have made and I’ll continue fighting for each project so we can restore and protect South Florida’s critical ecosystems.”
“Today is a momentous day!” said State Senator Gayle Harrell of Stuart. “The opening of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area are so important to our Treasure Coast and to the health of the St. Lucie River and Estuary. This is project that I have worked on for almost 20 years and I am delighted to see it come to fruition.”
“The completion of this project marks one of the most significant collaborations of all levels of government, local community support, and engineering achievement in our nation,” said Martin County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Doug Smith. “It was 20 years in the making and its completion marks the beginning of what we will likely call ‘The Good Ole Days’ of Everglades restoration.”
Authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, the C-44 Basin Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) is a component of the Indian River Lagoon - South (IRL-S) Project, which is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The C-44 Reservoir and STA capture local runoff from the C-44 Basin, reducing average annual total nutrient loads and improving the salinity regimen for the St. Lucie River Estuary and the southern portion of the Indian River Lagoon. The reservoir and STA provide a total 60,500 acre-feet of new water storage, between the 50,600 acre-feet in the reservoir and 9,900 acre-feet in the STA, and 6,300 acres of new wetlands.
The Indian River Lagoon Watershed is home to more than 4,300 species of plants and animals and supports an annual economic contribution of more than $730 million. In addition, the Indian River Lagoon is known as the most bio-diverse habitat in North America and has been designated an Estuary of National Significance by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).