Water managers pumping water out of Caloosahatchee
Emergency action underway to help Southwest Florida's delicate ecosystem. Video by fox4now.comvideo
HENDRY COUNTY, Fla. - Emergency action underway to help Southwest Florida's delicate ecosystem.
Water managers are -- for the first time -- diverting freshwater from the Calooshatchee River to help maintain a healthy balance of fresh and salt water along the Southwest Florida coast.
They're storing it at the future home of the C-43 reservoir in Hendry County.
It's part of the bigger Everglades Restoration Project and has been in the works since 2005.
But with all the rainfall since Hurricane Isaac, water managers decided now is a good a time as any to flood the land.
"We looked at this site about a week and half ago and thought we could do things here. A little bit of engineering last week and here we are pumping water on the site, explains Jeff Kivett with the South Florida Water Management District.
This test is the first step of a long-term solution to water quality problems in Southwest Florida.
"We're moving water from the Caloosahatchee on to the site to actually store it instead of discharging it into the estuary," says Kivett.
Water managers moved into action after the Army Corps of Engineers stepped up fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee about a month ago.
These releases put an abundance of fresh water into the estuary, dropping the salinity.
And when that balance of fresh and salt water is off, it has an impact on everything from sea grasses to the fisheries adds Kivett.
Two 42-inch pumps are moving about 150,000 gallons of water per minute to the site.
That's enough to fill 10 residential swimming pools in just one minute!
And soon this 11-thousand acre test site will be flooded.
But one day, there could be water stored here as far as the eye could see.
"A lot of people depend on the environment, so to us this is a very good first step of trying to help that out," says Kivett.
Before the project can be competed and fully operational, it still needs congressional authorization and funding.
No word when that will be.