December 12, 2017
West Palm Beach, FL – Thanks to more than two decades of collaborative efforts by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, water quality in the Everglades is another year older and another year better. In Water Year 2017, the District's network of constructed treatment wetlands, known as Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs), treated water to an average of 15 parts per billion (ppb) of phosphorus, the best performance on record.
According to water quality data presented last week by the District at the Water Resources Analysis Coalition public forum, one of the few remaining "impacted" monitoring stations with levels of phosphorus greater than 10 ppb successfully transitioned over into the classification of being "unimpacted." Monitoring station data verifies the area receiving treated water from STA-1 East located in the northern portion of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge now meets state water quality standards.
Earlier this year, a major piece of Gov. Rick Scott's $880 million Restoration Strategies Plan was finished when the District began operation of the L-8 Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) in western Palm Beach County. The L-8 FEB is able to store up to 45,000 acre-feet of water to improve the performance of nearby STAs. This and the other projects in Gov. Scott's plan will bring the entire Everglades ecosystem into compliance with the state's stringent water quality standards. Overall, Florida has invested more than $1.8 billion to improve Everglades water quality in the last two decades.
"The water quality targets needed for America's Everglades to thrive are being met, and our performance keeps improving each year thanks in large part to the guidance laid out in Gov. Scott's Restoration Strategies Plan," said SFWMD Governing Board Vice Chairman Jim Moran. "With most of the plan's works already completed and the rest underway, we are within sight of the water quality finish line."