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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.


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