Lower Kissimmee STA is the right project; is it in the right place?
We’re keeping an eye on a proposal in Okeechobee County to build a stormwater treatment area, or STA, north of Lake Okeechobee along the C-38 Canal in the Lower Kissimmee Basin. The land, some 3,400 acres, is owned by a private company called Ecosystem Investment Partner, which has been contracted by the South Florida Water Management District to study and design the project. The idea is to capture water from the L-62 and C-38 canals before it enters Lake O and treat it, removing phosphorus and nitrogen, before returning cleaner water to the canal and ultimately the lake.
It’s part of the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEPP) and would be situated just south of some of the biggest “hot spot” sub basins in terms of nutrient pollution/runoff. So if you want to treat water north of the lake before it flows INTO the lake — and we do — this would seem to be a perfect spot.
But not so fast: Okeechobee County Commissioners, reacting to local concerns, have called for the project to be canceled, saying the project could decrease property values, increase insurance rates and pose a danger to air traffic at the nearby Okeechobee County Airport.
County commissioners say it’s not that they think it’s a bad project — they just want it moved to a different location.
Unfortunately, it may be impossible to find a more suitable location from an environmental (and land acquisition) standpoint. We get the county’s concerns; but this project could do a lot of good. So we hope the county, the district and the company can come to some sort of agreement so the proposal can move forward.