FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 24, 2017
DEP CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING OF
INDIAN HILLS RECREATION AREA IN FORT PIERCE
~New stormwater park benefits Indian River Lagoon~
DEP Southeast District Director Jennifer Smith joined representatives from Fort Pierce,
St. Lucie County, the South Florida Water Management District and local officials to celebrate the grand opening of the Indian Hills Recreation Area.
FORT PIERCE, Fla. – The Department of Environmental Protection recently joined Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, the South Florida Water Management District and local officials in celebrating the grand opening of the Indian Hills Recreation Area. The project was funded through the state's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Water Quality Restoration Grant program, an Environmental Protection Agency Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grant and a Florida Communities
Trust land acquisition grant.
"We are proud to work with local communities like Fort Pierce to provide grants for projects that improve the quality of the Indian River Lagoon, one of the state's most important estuaries," said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystems restoration. "Investing in projects and programs to improve the lagoon is vital to the environment and Florida’s economy and quality of life."
Fort Pierce was awarded a total of $1.4 million in grants for the stormwater project which provides treatment for a 1,242-acre watershed of urban and commercially developed land. This project implements best management practices spread over 60 acres, providing an ecologically-friendly facility that will improve the quality of stormwater runoff discharging into the Indian River Lagoon. These practices include:
- Expansion of an existing 17-acre stormwater treatment lake to increase the amount of time stormwater spends in the lake, reducing the impact of runoff from rainfall events;
- Construction of a new outfall structure to ensure all stormwater will be routed through the lake;
- Construction of a treatment system to reduce phosphorus and particulates, reducing algae growth;
- Enhancement of the aquatic vegetation zone along the existing stormwater lake shoreline to encourage aquatic plant growth;
- Installation of a floating aquatic plant system, consisting of 12 "islands" to control fluctuating water levels, produce oxygen, remove nutrients and pesticides from the water, and provide wildlife habitat;
- Construction of bioswales along the western boundary of the park;
- Installation of pervious pavement in parking areas.
Collectively, these best management practices are anticipated to reduce phosphorous by approximately 83 percent and nitrogen by 56 percent, improving water quality and reducing seagrass overgrowth in the Indian River Lagoon.
St. Lucie County was awarded a $3.3 million Florida Communities Trust grant for the land acquisition and recreational portion of the project, which also included upland and wetland restoration and flood hazard mitigation. As part of this grant, the recreational area includes a hiking trail, fitness trail, wildlife observation platform and educational programs.
"We are thankful for this funding and for our partnership with DEP," said Nicholas Mimms, Fort Pierce city manager. "Projects like this not only make Fort Pierce a better place to live and play, but also help our community to do its part to improve the environment around us."
The department is working aggressively to improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon by identifying and funding additional wastewater and stormwater projects to reduce the amount of nutrients going into the lagoon, as well as dredging projects to remove muck that exists in the bottom of the lagoon.