I watched the water flow like a shallow river. It streamed from four 24-inch black pipes, across a 200-by-20 foot section of small boulders and down into a wide open field.
As I have since I was a young boy, I found myself mesmerized by the motion. Here, I thought to myself, water was actually moving in a project which is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
I have to admit, I never thought I’d see the day.
Perhaps there is hope for Florida’s water after all.
The C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area in western Martin County officially began operation last week. The significance wasn’t lost on me.
I’ve covered my home state’s water woes for 25 years. I’ve penned columns filled with angst, frustration, exasperation and rage. I was fed up in 1998.
Truly a lifetime ago.
I’ve seen our water go from bad to worse. Flocculent ooze and feet-thick muck blanket the bottom of the river. Lesioned fish and fish kills. Toxic algae. Sea grass dead and gone. Bacteria warnings. Silt plumes that blanket our nearshore reefs.
What have we done to our once pristine waterways? It’s criminal.
I and everyone who ever fought for clean water in our lakes, rivers and estuaries have grown tired. We’ve had it with water managers’ endless habit of kicking cans down long roads and talking down to us as if demanding clean water was rebellious and anarchist.
But there, on Friday, a few miles east of Indiantown, water actually flowed. Pumps sucked it from a canal and poured it into a stormwater treatment area. There, plants will be charged with removing pollutants from the water. When the water is cleaned, it can be returned to the canal.