Jordan Marsh projects gets its green light
The city of Sanibel is set to move forward on the Jordan Marsh Water Quality Treatment Park.
On April 2, the city was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a Nationwide Permit, a federal permit, for the project. James Evans, director of the Natural Resources Department, explained that the park required both federal and state permit approval because of the impact to the landscape.
Back in December, the city had received the Environmental Resource Permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection – the needed state permit.
“We can now finalized the design and we’re putting together the bid documents,” he said.
According to Evans, the city developed the scope of work, selecting a contractor for its design and engineering about a year ago. It was about 95 percent complete and just waiting on the permits.
“The overall goal of the Jordan Marsh Water Quality Treatment Park is to improve water quality in the impaired Sanibel River basin to help meet state of Florida water quality standards and to ensure a healthy balance of flora and fauna,” Evans said.
“Secondary goals of the project include enhancement to existing wildlife habitat on the site and education of park visitors on the various best management practices used to improve water quality,” he added.
The project will entail the construction of a filter marsh and pump station, as well as the addition of native vegetation and a trail, bench seating and observation point for community access and use.
“It’s going to be a nice amenity for the island,” Evans said.
The filter marsh will be constructed to the southeast of Periwinkle Way and Casa Ybel Road on six acres of city-owned land known as the Jordan Marsh Preserve, along with a portion of the 8.5 acres of adjacent Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation land that is known as the Bob Wigley Preserve.
To be located on SCCF’s land, the pump station will pull water from the river.
“This is a partnership project between the city and SCCF,” he said.
Evans explained that the pulled water will funnel through the gravity-fed marsh, which will be comprised of native plants. The plants will take up the nutrients, reducing the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. The water will discharge into a swell along Casa Ybel, which feeds into the river.
“This is all toward the goal of reducing nitrogen and phosphorous,” he said. “The system will be maintained to keep the system removing nutrients at a pretty high level.”
Evans also pointed to the secondary benefits of the project.
“It is a natural filter marsh, so it’s going to provide really really nice habitat for wading birds,” he said, adding that there will be a tremendous improvement, which will serve as an educational component.
“It will be a recreational resource. People will be able to go visit the site,” Evans said, citing the nature trail and bird watching opportunities. “Our goal is to educate visitors about the different tools we’re using to improve water quality.”
The existing high levels of nutrients have been tied to the city’s reclaimed wastewater used for irrigation, as well as groundwater and fertilizer runoff from residential, commercial and golf course properties. The city has received $2 million to upgrade to an advanced sewer treatment system.
Evans added that there are legacy nutrients left in ground from the conversion to sewer.
“There’s time it takes for those nutrients to dissipate,” he said.
In the coming weeks, city staff will put together the bid documents. Once the bids are accepted and reviewed, a contractor will be selected and a contract brought before the Sanibel City Council.
It is expected to go before the council for consideration and approval in May or June.
“Our main goal is really to complete the project before Oct. 1,” he said.
The city received a $150,000 grant from the South Florida Water Management District through its Cooperative Funding Program for construction, but the project must be finished this fiscal year.
The grant will help reduce the estimated cost of the project, which is $615,000.
“That’s a really big chunk of it. That’s about 25 percent of the total project cost, so we don’t want to jeopardize that grant,” Evans said. “We will not have actual construction costs until the project bids are received.”
Anticipated to take four to six months – on the shorter end – he called the timeline doable.