SFWMD Celebrates Completion of Water Quality Improvement Project North of Lake Okeechobee

SFWMD Celebrates Completion of Water Quality Improvement Project North of Lake Okeechobee

Brighton Valley public private partnership dispersed water management project will help reduce nutrient loads, improve water quality north of the lake

HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. – The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and Lykes Bros. Inc. today celebrated the completion of another of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ priority Everglades projects: the Brighton Valley Dispersed Water Management Project in Highlands County.

“In Florida, our environment and our economy depend on each other. And today we added an 8,000-acre tool to our toolkit in support of water quality efforts in the Lake Okeechobee watershed,” said SFWMD Executive Director Drew Bartlett at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the water project. “It’s going to take meaningful partnerships, programs, and projects like the Brighton Valley Dispersed Water Management to improve regional water quality and support the health of the Northern Everglades. All of this is possible thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis and support from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Legislature.

“Partnership is key to achieving our state’s environmental restoration goals,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein. “I applaud the commitment of all of the partners in this important water storage project that will improve water quality in South Florida and the health of the Everglades ecosystem.”

“Lykes has stewarded this land for generations,” said Johnnie P. James Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Lykes Bros. Inc. “On behalf of the Lykes family and employees, we are very proud of the tradition of this company to partner with the Water Management District and other agencies of the State to address this region’s water quality problems.”

The Brighton Valley Dispersed Water Management Project, a priority of Governor Ron DeSantis, is a public-private partnership with Lykes Bros. Inc. to provide important water storage and treatment north of Lake Okeechobee. The 8,000-acre project pumps excess water from the C-41A Canal and can capture 40,000 acre-feet of water per year. It is anticipated to remove approximately 3 metric tons of phosphorus and 27 metric tons of nitrogen annually before it enters Lake Okeechobee.

Project funding was provided by the Florida Legislature and is one of six regionally significant water quality improvement projects under the Northern Everglades Public Private Partnership Program.

The Brighton Valley Project is also one of 29 priority environmental restoration projects that Gov. DeSantis identified within hours of taking office with his Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment Executive Order 19-12. The order directs agencies to expedite the completion of projects such as Brighton Valley Project to restore the Greater Everglades Ecosystem and improve statewide water quality.

Brighton Valley joins a growing list of these priority projects that have been completed including the Caulkins Dispersed Water Management Project in Martin County. Several other projects such as the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project, the Caloosahatchee Reservoir Project and the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area have also completed major construction milestones in the last year.