In a win for Everglades restoration, the newly completed, 2,070-acre C-23/24 Stormwater Treatment Area will treat water from the C-23/24 canals and Fort Pierce Farms Basins, reducing nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) and sediments that flow into the St. Lucie Estuary and eventually the Indian River Lagoon. It will help prevent algal blooms and sediment loading, protecting the lagoon - which is home to more than 3,000 species of plants and animals. The Indian River Lagoon is the most biodiverse estuarine area in the country and the STA will help restore salinity balance to its southern section.
“It’s really great to see more Everglades restoration projects coming online and progressing like the C-23/24 Stormwater Treatment Area. We are happy to see projects in various stages that will protect the health of estuaries and the Everglades such as this one," says Paul Gray, PhD, Audubon Florida's Everglades Science Coordinator.
The C-23/24 STA is an important component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Along with its reservoirs, it makes up the second part of the Indian River Lagoon-South (IRL-S) project. When storms and heavy rainfall occur, fresh water flows into the C-23 and C-24 canals. This water contains polluted runoff from agricultural and urban areas. To mitigate the harmful impacts to the St. Lucie Estuary, the water will be pumped into two reservoirs (North and South) which will contain over 5,000 acres of storage. The reservoir water will then be treated in the STA by filtration through emergent vegetation (1-2 feet in depth) on multiple treatment areas within a 10-mile perimeter before it flows into the north fork of the St. Lucie Estuary via Ten Mile Creek. In addition, some of the water will be used for irrigation instead of going into the estuary.
The C-23/24 STA contract for construction was awarded in 2021 and is scheduled for completion in 2025. The Project Implementation Report was completed in 2004, construction began in late 2021, and the STA and its reservoirs are projected to take ten years to complete. When finished, the STA will offer 4,800 acre-feet of new storage for the watershed, and the reservoirs will store four billion gallons of rainfall annually.
The C-23/24 STA is the first component of the IRL-S project to address C-23 and C-24 basins. The STA contains cells located on either side of County Road (CR) 613 alongside route 70 in Saint Lucie County. The entire project will remove 7.9 million cubic yards of muck and will reduce phosphorus by 41% and nitrogen by 26% entering the St. Lucie River. The STA will cost over $136 million to complete.