Audubon helped celebrate the inauguration of the Brighton Valley Dispersed Water Management Project on September 17, 2020. This joint project between the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and Lykes Bothers, Inc. (Lykes) near the Kissimmee River will redirect excess water from the C-41A canal onto 8,143 acres of shallow reservoir on Lykes property (more than 12 square miles).
Lykes will be paid to store and treat between 40,000-90,000 acre-feet of water annually (1) in this shallow reservoir, removing an estimated three tons of phosphorus and 27 tons of nitrogen pollution. The reservoir will be operated during wet periods at the direction of the SFWMD.
Brighton Valley marks the third major partnership project between Lykes and the SFWMD, which includes the 15,858-acre Nicodemus Slough project and the experimental 2,500-acre West Water Hole project. At an average storage depth of two feet, these types of water features are meccas for Florida bird life.
The Lake Okeechobee watershed is five times the size of the lake itself. As a result, large volumes of nutrient-laden runoff flows into the lake every year, stimulating algal blooms and causing discharges to the east and west. Brighton Valley and similar initiatives are needed to catch and clean water before it flows into the lake. These projects not only help improve the lake’s watershed, they also forge innovative partnerships with local landowners, who in turn become part of our water solutions. They keep their land on the tax rolls, producing food and fiber for communities across the country, and improving water quality for wildlife and people.
Audubon is a strong proponent of working with landowners to rehydrate historic wetlands to store more water in the Okeechobee watershed, for the good for birds, wildlife, and people alike.
Read the full State of the Everglades report here.
(1) An acre-foot of water equals 325,000 gallons.