WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The South Florida Water Management District has begun discharging water from Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) 6 located in Hendry County. At 870-acres, STA-6 is the first, and smallest, of six STAs to be constructed to cleanse pollutants from farmwater runoff from the Everglades Agricultural Area before entering the Everglades. Construction of the six STAs is mandated by the state's 1994 Everglades Forever Act, with final construction to be completed in 2003.
Construction of STA-6 was completed over a month ago, but the release of water had to wait for a four-week "start-up phase" to ensure that discharges would have lower phosphorus concentrations than water entering the project. Weekly sampling and measuring show an average of 32 ppb (parts per billion) of phosphorus at the inflow with the outflow measuring an average 18 ppb. In addition to the lower phosphorus levels, monitoring has also shown lower mercury readings in the discharge water.
Water treated by STA-6, comes from 10,400 acres of sugar cane belonging to U.S. Sugar Corporation. Pumps force the water into STA-6, then, by gravity, it travels eastward through treatment cells before collecting in the STA-6 discharge canal. Six gates along the discharge canal can be opened to allow the water to move south into the L-4 canal. From there the water is pumped through the S-8 structure and into the Miami Canal where it moves into the Everglades (Water Conservation Area 3A).
"The flow of treated water from STA-6 marks another milestone in the Everglades Construction Project," said Samuel E. Poole III, the district's executive director. This is certainly good news for the environment and indicates the commitment of this agency to meet the time schedules and budget requirements of the largest restoration project of its kind in the U.S.
Keeping to the construction schedule, work has already begun on STA-5 (4,118-acres), also in Hendry County, and on STA-1 West (6,670-acres) in Palm Beach County. In February, construction is scheduled to begin on STA-7 (6,430-acres) in Palm Beach County.
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