The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board last week awarded a contract to build the final piece of the Lakeside Ranch Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) project, the S-191A Pump Station.
In cooperation with the other coordinating agencies, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, SFWMD’s project will improve the hydrology and water quality of Lake Okeechobee.
The Lakeside Ranch Stormwater Treatment Area in western Martin County is a key component of the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program. It is one of the restoration projects included in the Lake Okeechobee Basin Management Action Plan that will improve the quality of water flowing into the lake.
SFWMD previously constructed 2,700 acres of wetlands in two phases, capable of treating stormwater runoff from the Taylor Creek and Nubbin Slough basins flowing into Lake Okeechobee. The 1,200-acre first phase was completed in 2012 and the 1,500-acre second phase will be completed this year. The treatment area uses wetland plants to remove phosphorus from stormwater runoff naturally.
The S-191A Pump Station is the last component of the Lakeside Ranch project. Taylor Creek and Nubbin Slough basins have the highest phosphorus levels of any incoming watershed into the lake, with average total levels of more than 400 parts per billion (ppb). Phosphorus levels leaving Lakeside Ranch after treatment have been measured as low as 20 ppb. The STA can remove nearly 21 tons of phosphorus each year from the waters feeding the lake.