PICAYUNE STRAND STATE FOREST (PSSF) – WESTERN PROTECTIVE LEVEE – WATER QUALITY STUDY
20 Oct 2020
The 55,247 acre Restoration project within the PSSF was created utilizing $600 million Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) Federal funds requiring US Army Corps of Engineers oversight in partnership with South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Historically, this was the location of Southern Golden Gate Estates south of I-75. It is the location of all the property taken by the SFWMD for flooding by 3 - $50 million pump stations. The purpose of the project was to restore the area to natural vegetated conditions and seasonal inundations. There is no written history of the vegetation or seasonal inundation patterns, so they were estimated by biologists and engineers. The key point here it is a “restoration project,” not a water quality project.
The PSSF has been mistakenly characterized as being a part of the Everglades Hydrological Basin by environmentalist, which it is not. Collier County and portions of south Lee County have hydrological functions separate from the Everglades Basin and is named BIG CYPRESS BASIN.
This is the reason 15 of the 16 counties shown in the SFWMD boundary pay the Everglades Restoration Tax of $25.00 per acre per year for discharging water into the Everglades Basin. Collier County residents do not. The Caloosahatchee Basin, Okeechobee Basin and Lake Okeechobee make up the Everglades Hydrological Basin. Collier County makes up the Big Cypress Basin.
A necessary component of the PSSF Restoration is to build a PROTECTIVE LEVEE/DIKE on the southwest corner of the PSSF to prevent flood waters from the 3 pump stations from flooding the farm fields of 6L’s farm (see map). 6L’s Farms have SFWMD permits from before the PSSF was created that allow them to discharge the farm field water from their reservoirs into the PSSF area (see Map). This water then makes its way into the Collier Seminole State Park (CSSP), then under US 41 via culverts to proceed south.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and SFWMD speculate that there might be a problem with too much nutrients in the 6L’s discharged water after the Protective Levee is built. Currently 6L’s meets all State of Florida BMP requirements. Currently, there is no issue with algal blooms in this area and there is no history of algal blooms in this area.
So, is there a problem? Is this like the movie “MINORITY REPORT?” Can you be convicted and jailed before there was crime? That is the issue here. Join the Virtual meeting and decide.