SFWMD activates Faka Union pumps in Picayune Strand State Forest, Southwest Florida
After years of restoration efforts, significant ecological benefit to come thanks to the work carried out by SFWMD and the US Army Corps of Engineers
Charlette Roman, SFWMD Board Member, Activates Faka Union Pumps
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has reached a milestone for the Picayune Strand restoration project in unincorporated Collier County and has started using the Faka Union Pumping Station for the first time last week. This pumping station, along with other restoration activities, is working to rehydrate the drained wetlands in the Picayune Strand State Forest and restore the area’s natural sheet flow.
âIn the 1960s, a developer dug canals to drain land and built miles of shell roads, destroying natural habitat,â said Charlette Roman, SFWMD board member. âUnder the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis to expedite the restoration of the Everglades, the Water Management District has worked with its partner, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to speed up the filling of some of these canals. can now restore the hydration and ecosystem of this magnificent natural treasure. “
During the last dry season, USACE completed backfilling of 3.3 miles of canals in the north-central Picayune Strand area. Now, with an adequate water supply in the area, SFWMD is using the Faka Union pumping station for the first time to pump up to 2,650 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water into a large sewage basin. The basin fills and allows water to flow naturally through the area and restore its natural state of hydration.
Rehydration of these wetlands supports wildlife habitat, improved water quality, and overall ecosystem restoration efforts in the region. SFWMD has worked with USACE for years on the Picayune Strand Restoration Project, which is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
In the 1960s, over 85 square miles of wetlands in western Collier County were drained for a failed real estate development called Southern Golden Gate Estates. Road construction and canal excavations have severely affected the region, reducing the storage of aquifers, increasing the discharge of fresh water into the Ten Thousand Islands estuaries, disrupting native plant communities and increasing the frequency of forest fires. .
The Picayune Strand Restoration Project restores surface water flow to these vital wetlands and supports many environmental benefits, including:
â¢ Restored and improved habitat for fish and wildlife;
â¢ Reduced drainage from adjacent sensitive ecosystems;
â¢ Improved recharge of aquifers to protect groundwater supplies and
prevent salt water intrusion;
â¢ Reduction of freshwater discharges / improvement of the health of downstream estuaries; and
â¢ Increase in leisure opportunities
The Picayune Strand restoration project is a partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers and is expected to be completed by 2025. The restoration effort is one of dozens of Gov. DeSantis led SFWMD and its partners to accelerate with its Achieve More Now for Florida Environmental Executive Order upon taking office in 2019.
The South Florida Water Management District is a regional government agency that manages water resources in the southern part of the state. It is the oldest and largest of the state’s five water management districts. Our mission is to safeguard and restore South Florida’s water resources and ecosystems, protect our communities from flooding, and meet the region’s water needs while connecting with the public and stakeholders. .
This press release was produced by Grand Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.