JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, alongside federal, state and local officials, celebrated the start of a major construction contract today for the reservoir component of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area project, a critical restoration project to restore America’s Everglades.
The reservoir is the largest water storage component of the C-44 project, which is under construction in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District, as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan’s (CERP) Indian River Lagoon-South project.
"The Obama Administration has already invested $2.2 billion in the restoration of the Everglades and today marks yet another groundbreaking on a project that will restore the most biologically diverse estuarine system in the United States,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, who spoke at the event. “We will save this system and preserve it for future generations.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District awarded the $197 million construction contract to Barnard Construction Inc., from Bozeman, Mont. The contract involves the construction of a 3,400-acre reservoir that will store an additional 16.5 billion gallons of water from the C-44 Basin.
"Awarding the C-44 reservoir contract demonstrates federal dollars at work to deliver much-needed water storage to this precious ecosystem," said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District Commander. "In terms of cost, this $197 million construction contract is the largest single contract award for the Jacksonville District, and Corps-wide, is the second largest contract award for a project this past year."
The ceremony included participation from Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson, Interior Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Michael Bean, U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy, State Senator Joe Negron, SFWMD Governing Board Vice-Chair Kevin Powers, and Martin County Commissioner Anne Scott.
"Florida remains steadfast in its commitment to restore and protect the Everglades ecosystem, and we are proud to be a vital partner in this important project," said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson. "Thanks to the support of Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature, I look forward to completing this reservoir and moving forward with other projects to help protect this crucial natural resource."
In an effort to construct the project as expeditiously as possible, the SFWMD awarded construction contracts for the discharge canal, pump station and STA. The shared efforts on construction contracts will reduce the time needed to fully-construct the project by at least two years.
"As a Florida native and a longtime resident of the Treasure Coast, I am proud of the state's significant contribution and the continued endeavors of the South Florida Water Management District in building this project,” said Kevin Powers, SFWMD Governing Board Vice-Chair. “The C-44 project will be one of the greatest steps forward in a generation for the quality of the water in the St. Lucie Estuary and the quality of life for all its residents, people and wildlife."
Construction of the C-44 Reservoir and STA is scheduled to be complete in 2020. Upon construction completion, up to two years of operational testing will occur.
Once all work is complete, the project will capture local runoff from the C-44 basin, reducing average nutrient loads and improving salinity in the St. Lucie Estuary and the southern portion of the Indian River Lagoon. It will provide, in total, 60,500 acre-feet of new water storage (50,600 acre-feet in the reservoir and 9,900 acre-feet in the STAs) and 3,600 acres of new wetlands.
The Indian River Lagoon is the most biologically diverse estuarine system in the continental United States and is home to more than 3,000 species of plants and animals.
Quotes from governmental officials:
“Today we celebrate another important milestone in our effort to restore America’s Everglades. The C-44 reservoir will help restore and protect natural resources in the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon which contribute so much to the quality of life and economy of the region.”
- Michael Bean, Interior Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks and chair of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force
“This is a big deal. Not only will this project help us clean up the water in the Indian River Lagoon, it’s also an important step in our overall efforts to restore the Everglades.”
- U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
"Continued progress to improve water quality throughout the entire system can only be achieved through collaboration across all agencies, levels of government, and the community. So while today's groundbreaking of this vital reservoir is a major milestone, we also know that our work is not done in the fight to protect our waterways. Together, we will see the C-44 Indian River Lagoon South project and other vital Everglades restoration efforts come to completion, providing the relief our local waterways so desperately need.”
- U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy
"Martin County is proud and grateful to our federal and state partners for their support in the completion of the C-44 project component of the Indian River Lagoon-South project. We thank our federal and state delegation for their unwavering advocacy and our citizens who helped make this project happen through their contributions, so we can experience near term progress in our water quality. Today is a good day for every Martin County citizen, for the state of Florida and for America's Everglades."
- Anne Scott, Chair, Martin County Board of County Commissioners
Event photos will be added to the C-44 Reservoir and STA photo album as soon as they become available and will be available at: http://bit.ly/IRL-S_C44Photos
Additional information on the C-44 Reservoir and STA is available at: http://bit.ly/C-44_CERP
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