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Conservancy of Southwest Florida and South Florida Water Management District’s Big Cypress Basin complete project to improve water quality in Gordon River and Naples Bay

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the South Florida Water Management District’s Big Cypress Basin have completed Phase I of the expansion of the Shotwell Waverly Filter Marsh at the Conservancy’s Nature Center campus. This project will improve water quality in Gordon River and Naples Bay, increase the existing treatment area to allow for additional reduction of pollutants in the water and provide additional water storage. The project was also designed to provide added native aquatic habitat for wildlife as well as continued educational value to the public.

Recognizing the need to protect Gordon River and Naples Bay, the Conservancy created a filter marsh in 2009 to help clean pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorous from stormwater and provide a serene environment for a variety of wildlife including turtles, fish, frogs, and numerous wading birds. The marsh works by sending runoff waters into a detention pond, where they are slowed, and then the water moves through a new plant rich marsh, eventually draining into the Gordon River, and ultimately Naples Bay.

“It has been a pleasure to partner with Big Cypress Basin on this project,” said Conservancy President & CEO Rob Moher. “We know that we are always stronger when we can partner with organizations for our work and the partnership with Big Cypress Basin is a perfect example.  This expansion will enhance what was created in 2009 by the Conservancy and will continue to serve as an educational tool to students and adults alike as to how we can address and improve some of the water quality issues we face in Southwest Florida. We are grateful for this opportunity.”

“The Big Cypress Basin and South Florida Water Management District are proud to support efforts to improve water quality in our region,” said Charlette Roman, Chair of the Big Cypress Basin Board and an At-large Member of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board. “Governor Ron DeSantis prioritized investments in the protection of Florida’s water resources, and we appreciate our partnership with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to provide water quality improvements for the Gordon River and Naples Bay.”

This project has been funded through private donations and a partnership with the Big Cypress Basin.  The construction, which began a year ago, costs more than $400,000 of which the Big Cypress Basin has provided over $115,000 as a matching partnership grant.

The Conservancy’s Environmental Science Research team started collecting monthly water quality samples as part of Phase II of this project to analyze the water for basic nutrient and physical parameters. The sampling is expected to take 12 months.

The Nature Center reopened recently after having been closed for almost 20 months.  During the closure, renovations and expansion were undertaken in the Susan and William Dalton Discovery Center as well as the expansion of the Shotwell Wavering Filter Marsh.  Both the Dalton Discovery Center and the Shotwell Wavering Filter Marsh are open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 9:30am until 4:00pm.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 57-year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land, wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida by visiting conservancy.org.

The Big Cypress Basin is part of the South Florida Water Management District and includes a network of over 140 miles of canals and 35 water control structures, while providing flood protection in Collier County.

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional governmental agency that manages the water resources in the southern half of the state, covering 16 counties from Orlando to the Florida Keys and serving a population of 9 million residents. The District works to protect Florida’s water and natural resources, provide flood protection, and ensure water supply for South Florida’s communities. The District is also responsible for restoring America’s Everglades, the largest ecosystem restoration project in the world.

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