Burns & McDonnell

About Everglades construction project


Courtesy of Courtesy of Burns & McDonnell

The Everglades is a one-of-a-kind habitat, the largest wetland and subtropical wilderness in the United States. For more than 100 years, the ecosystem has suffered at the hands of man, with agriculture encroachment and development runoff disrupting native plants and animals. For more than 25 years the South Florida Water Management District has been investigating ways to restore and protect the remaining Everglades ecosystem.

The Everglades Construction Project forms the foundation of the district’s restoration program. The ECP is composed of 12 inter-related construction projects located between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Six stormwater treatment areas (STAs) form the cornerstone of the project, creating constructed wetlands of more than 47,000 acres.

Burns & McDonnell has been involved in the ECP since 1989, proposing the created wetlands as a solution to restoration efforts directed by litigation against the state and the 1994 Everglades Forever Act. Burns & McDonnell prepared preliminary design and general design for the entire ECP. STA 3/4, the winner of the Grand Conceptor Award, is the largest treatment area in the ECP. It is also the largest constructed wetlands in the world. The 16,543-acre area is designed to improve the quality of water entering the restored wetlands from the north, creating a buffer zone between the ecosystem and extensive agricultural land.

One major goal of the Everglades project was to reduce phosphorus levels entering the ecosystem. Phosphorus in the Everglades water had allowed previously minor plant species such as cattail to proliferate and displace other species. Burns & McDonnell helped design the created wetlands to be a nonchemical method for reducing phosphorus levels, using wetland plant communities to absorb the undesired nutrients before the water is released into the Everglades.

Other STA 3/4 features:

  • 16,543 acres of man-made wetland
  • More than 50 miles of levees and canals
  • Two pumping stations
  • Over 5 billion-gallons-per-day capacity
  • 48 fully automated control structures
  • New highway and secondary bridges
  • Largest man-made wetlands in the world

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