State and local officials break ground on Bessey Creek Hybrid Wetland Project in Palm City

State and local officials broke ground Thursday on the new state-of-the-art

Hybrid Wetland Treatment Technology (HWTT) project on Bessey Creek in Palm City.

The water quality improvement project, funded with $3 million from the Florida

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), was approved by the

Martin County Board of County Commissioners in 2014 and awarded to Watershed

Technologies LLC. Once completed in 2015, the treatment facility is expected to

decrease the high level of phosphorus in stormwater runoff in the treated basin by up to

95 percent. The HWTT project is designed to clean water before it reaches the St. Lucie

Estuary.

“Martin County has invested over $50 million in stormwater projects to improve local

water quality, and we continue to work towards meeting all established state water

quality standards,” stated Martin County Commission Vice Chairwoman Anne Scott,

who served as emcee of the groundbreaking ceremony. “We can only do this work with

the outstanding collaborations and partnerships with state agencies and other entities

committed to water quality improvement.”

Bessey Creek is a freshwater tributary of the St. Lucie River and Estuary system, both of

which have been classified as impaired water bodies by the Florida Department of

Environmental Protection due to excessive nutrient loading. The water quality

enhancements that are planned for Bessey Creek will benefit the citizens of Martin

County by reducing the nutrient loading to the estuary and assisting the County in

meeting state water quality standards.

“The Bessey Creek project helps in our overall goal as part of our cleanup efforts in the

Indian River Lagoon, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades,” said State Senator Joe

Negron (R-Stuart), who has been a champion for water quality not only throughout the

state, but also within the Treasure Coast region. “This project is a terrific example of

utilizing cutting-edge technology, and in local and state officials working toward

improving water quality within the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

“We are committed in working to restore the health of water bodies and conserve our

supply of water,” said Rich Budell, director, Office of Agricultural Water Policy with

the FDACS. “The Hybrid Wetland Treatment Technology is one that we believe has a

bright future to help us deal with that legacy load of phosphorus and we are in the

process of expanding this technology to other areas of the state.”

The primary goal of the HWTT systems is to reduce levels of contaminants, including

phosphorus and nitrogen, in stormwater and other water bodies, while preserving and

enhancing the environment. Watershed Technologies LLC lead scientist Tom DeBusk

was on hand to demonstrate the HWTT process, showing water samples collected from

various stages of the process. Photo renderings were also provided to illustrate similar

projects and successful outcomes.

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