Evaluation and simulation of a large scale pilot water farm project in South Florida

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South Florida, U.S.A. is in the midst of enormous change driven by steady population growth. At the same time the citrus industry has been struggling to contain outbreaks of citrus greening which threaten an important industry in the region. To add to this complexity, the re-plumbing of the Everglades ecosystem, which aims to redirect the flow of surface and groundwater to more natural patterns, is underway. Currently, flow out of Lake Okeechobee is shunted mostly eastward or westward through massive flood control canals. On the east side of Lake Okeechobee water is directed down the C-44 (St. Lucie) canal towards the Atlantic Ocean. These large pulse releases of freshwater can wreak havoc in the St. Lucie Estuary as flora and fauna can be shocked by the near-instantaneous change in salinity due to the large releases as well as by the impacts of nutrients carried in the flows. This study focuses upon a pilot water farm project implemented to provide some interim water storage and treatment benefits in the watershed. This study summarizes the results of a comprehensive assessment of the water farm performance, concentrating on the fate of stored water as well as the overall cost effectiveness of the project. The assessment was greatly aided by the development of complementary simulation tools using MODFLOW and Solver, which is also discussed. Finally, this paper discusses how this idea can be scaled up and used in other projects to support the restoration of the Everglades and overall sustainable development in Florida and other places further afield.

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Journal of Water Management Modeling



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