There’s no quick fix to the water issues surrounding Lake Okechobee. The state has been putting away its half of the money for water projects, but the federal government has been coming up short.
There’s many projects in the works, but funding is put a hold on them. One project is in Hendry County near LaBelle. It’s a huge water storage project called thee C43 reservoir.
“This location was chosen because there’s a thick layer of clay beneath it, it doesn’t allow water to go through very easily, we want to try to create a bath tub,” Thomas McKernan, a C.E.T. Construction Manager, said.
A bath tub that will cost $500 million.
“It’s an above ground reservoir, it’s going to be stored on 10,500 acres of land, we are going to store 175,000 acre feet of water, that’s one acre of land, with one foot of water on it, it’s equivalent to 55 billion gallons of water,” Phil Flood with the South Florida Water Management District said.
An acre is about the six of a football field, to give you an idea on how much space this will take up. 10,500 football fields.
When it’s finished, it will have the capacity to hold about five million swimming pools of water.
“The idea is during the rainy season when there’s too much fresh water going into the estuary or if the Corps is making releases from Lake Okeechobee we’ll pull water from the Caloosahatchee, store it in the reservoir,” Flood said. “Then during the dry season we’ll release that water, send it out to the estuary to keep the estuary healthy. It’s all about trying to get the water right…having right salinity.”
Balancing the salt level in the water where the Caloosahatchee meets the Gulf of Mexico is a big topic.
“It’s a great project, it’s not going to help with the algae or the discharges, but it is something that we support.” Daniel Andrews with Captains for a Cause said.
This project has four phases, and right now workers have to build an irrigation pump.
The reservoir in Hendry County is supposed to be finished in 2022.
Reporting by Allyssa Dickert