Partner Engineering and Science, Inc. is providing environmental consulting services to the SFWMD for the world’s largest ecosystem restoration efforts covering 16 counties and 18,000 square miles. The goal of this project is to restore Florida’s ecosystem, including the Everglades.
To date, Partner has performed soil and groundwater assessment, storage tank closure, soil remediation through landform leveling, cattle dipping vat (CDV) assessment and removal, remedial action planning and implementation, and petroleum spill response and assessment for the SFWMD. Partner is currently working on the following stages of this decades-long project:
This 2,500-acre project is the first construction feature of the Indian River Lagoon South. As a collaboration between the SFWMD and the US Army Core of Engineers, this Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) was designed to reduce the flow of sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen from the Canal-23 and Canal-24 basins. This will allow valuable open water and wetlands for the St. Lucie River Estuary and the Southern portion of the Indian River Lagoon. The Indian River Lagoon Watershed is home to more than 4,300 species of plants and animals. In addition, the Indian River Lagoon is known as the most bio-diverse habitat in North America and has been designated an Estuary of National Significance by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A cattle dipping vat (CDV) was discovered at the C-23 / C-24 South Reservoir property during previous investigations. From 1915 to 1960, cattle dipping vats (CDVs) were constructed and used across the State of Florida to address the widespread occurrence of Cattle Tick Fever, an infectious disease caused by microbes that were spread by the cattle fever tick. CDVs utilized vats filled with water-based solutions containing arsenic or other pesticides at concentrations sufficient to destroy the ticks but not injure the cattle. Typical CDVs were elongated trenches between 4 to 6 feet in depth and had a drop-off entry on one end with a ramp at the exit end so that, once immersed or “dipped,” cattle could then easily walk out of the CDV. There was typically a drip pad and pen area for staging the cattle where they were kept until their hides no longer dripped any solution. At the C-23 / C-24 South Reservoir, Partner was contracted by the SFWMD to provide CDV demolition and removal services, source removal, confirmation soil sampling and analysis, and reporting. These activities were performed in July and August of 2023.
Pre-project due diligence investigations at the C-23 / C-24 North Reservoir determined elevated concentrations of copper existed within the first few inches of the land surface in the former citrus grove soils from the agricultural practice of spraying copper-based fungicide onto the trees and fruit. In freshwater ecosystems, copper often bioaccumulates and causes irreversible harm to some species at concentrations just above the levels required for growth and reproduction. Partner-directed landform leveling activities in six 40-acre grids to reduce the potential for ecotoxicological efforts in the North Reservoir. The landform leveling was accomplished through gross removal of soil and a combination of soil scraping, re-grading, and disking in a manner that would eliminate ecological risk. Landform leveling focuses on the removal of the upper few inches of highly impacted copper-containing soils and then allows for remaining copper-impacted soils to be relocated to a depth below the subsurface bioturbation zone where chemical and physical processes will not affect aquatic organisms in an aquatic wetland system. Partner conducted process control sampling during the remediation process to confirm target copper concentrations were being achieved, as well as confirmation soil sampling following the completion of landform leveling activities.
The construction of these 1,600 acres of STA and reservoir will catch, treat, and store runoff from C-25 and Fort Pierce Farms Basin. The project reduces the rate of harmful flows to downstream estuaries and improves water quality in the estuary and lagoon. The Indian River Lagoon-South Project includes several reservoirs, STAs, and natural lands features to support habitat restoration, reduced harmful discharges, and water quality improvements. Copper was reported to be present at concentrations exceeding the Threshold Effect Concentration (TEC) Sediment Quality Assessment Guideline (SQAG) in shallow soils at four 40-acre grids. As a result, Partner is currently implementing soil remediation through landform leveling in these grids to reduce the potential for ecotoxicological efforts in the C-25 STA/Reservoir. The purpose of the project is to relocate high copper-containing soils and blend the residual surface soil horizon to a depth that will isolate copper where it will no longer be available to aquatic and aquatic-dependent wildlife.
The C-43 WBSR was designed to store approximately 170,000 acre-feet of local basin stormwater runoff and releases from Lake Okeechobee. It will reduce the volume of discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee Estuary during the wet season and provide a source of freshwater flow to the estuary during the dry season to help balance salinity levels and provide flows to plants and wildlife when needed. In preparation for construction activities, the SFWMD contracted with Partner to remove the existing pump stations and perform tank closure assessments for a total of nine (9) aboveground storage tanks containing diesel fuel. The tank closures included an assessment of soil and groundwater at each location. Approval for the tank closure activities was obtained through the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). Additionally, Partner directed the demolition and disposal of pump stations, debris, and agrochemical mixing tanks at the site. Earthwork activities related to the construction of the STA and reservoir are currently being performed at the BOMA property.