By Tyler Treadway
January 3, 2017
PORT ST. LUCIE — City officials see acres and acres of overgrown citrus groves as a way of helping save the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon while slaking the thirst of future residents.
And all the city needs to make the vision a reality, they say, is $8 million.
The city wants to build a water farm with seven reservoirs along the C-23 Canal on 1,871 acres recently added to the McCarty Ranch Preserve, an expansive municipal park in westernmost Port St. Lucie.
As each reservoir is built, it would start taking water out of the canal — water polluted with fertilizer runoff that otherwise would flow to the river, where it would feed algae blooms like the ones that blanketed the estuary this past summer.
Once all seven reservoirs were built, they could keep nearly 9 billion gallons of polluted water a year out of the river and lagoon. That’s more than 20 percent of the annual flow from the canal to the estuary, and enough to cover all 76,800 acres of Port St. Lucie with 4¼ inches of water.
In about 20 years, the city plans to build a water treatment plant at the McCarty Ranch. The plant will be able to take the water held in the reservoirs and clean it for drinking.
“The goal is for the plant to provide about 20 million gallons of water a day,” said Jesus Merejo, Port St. Lucie utility director.
The city is expected to need 70 million gallons of drinking water a day for the 400,000 Port St. Lucie residents expected by 2060.
“People talk about how great it is to kill two birds with one stone,” said Port St. Lucie Mayor Greg Oravec. “Well, here we’ve got the chance to kill three, four or five birds with one stone: We stop wasting water, we save the river and lagoon, we provide drinking water and, for good measure, we throw in recreational opportunities. For me, it’s a straightforward calculation.”
The C-23 Canal accounts for 10 percent of all the water dumped into the St. Lucie River each year. The largest single contributor: Lake Okeechobee discharges.
To continue reading the story and to see the graphics and map included with the article, please click here: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2017/01/03/port-st-lucie-water-farm-indian-river-lagoon/95511632/