CALOOSAHATCHEE ESTUARY WORK BEGINS
The South Florida Water Management District has started construction on the Caloosahatchee River West Basin Storage Reservoir Project. Former grove land along the Lee and Hendry county line will ultimately be used for the so-called C-43 Reservoir Project designed to store water discharged from sources farther upstream, including Lake Okeechobee, the state’s largest freshwater lake.
Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane says it’s the first step toward getting the critical water storage that’s needed within the Caloosahatchee basin. The Caloosahatchee Estuary has been degraded by freshwater overflows that can reduce estuarine salinity during rainy season, resulting in die-offs of seagrasses, and oysters and other endangered species. Freshwater flushes also affect tourism and sport fishing.
The C-43 Reservoir Project is part of the 20-year committed Everglades Restoration Project, for which Gov. Rick Scott has proposed $9 billion in funding―$5 billion in state, $4 billion federal.
To prevent excessive freshwater flow to the estuary, the reservoir will capture approximately 170,000 acre-feet of water during rainy season and ensure a natural, consistent flow of freshwater during dry season, Water Management District officials are saying.