The dredging of muck from Lake Trafford in Immokalee is 80 percent complete and residents are reporting a change in the lake’s water quality. Lake Trafford is the largest lake south of Lake Okeechobee. It’s three miles west of Immokalee. Workers have been on-site around-the-clock since last October removing muck build-up from the lake’s bottom. The state of the art computerized dredging system extracts sediment and pumps it through a one-mile long pipe to settling ponds north of the lake. The ponds help cleanse the water before it is returned to the lake, says the South Florida water management district’s Randy Smith.
“So what we’re seeing now is much better water quality I mean visually you can see that the water quality is more clear than when it started. I think you’ll see plant life come back. Just because of the water clarity sunlight’s going to be able to reach the bottom to get plant life started and we know there’s still seed life in the bottom.”
The South Florida Water Management District aims to remove approximately 4 million cubic yards of muck build-up – enough to fill 222,222 dump trucks. Crews are pumping 13,000 gallons of the sediment and water out of the 1400-acre lake every minute. The project will cost more than ten million dollars.
The restoration of Lake Trafford is nearly complete. Over the years, accumulation of thick organic sediment has hurt water quality and taken natural aquatic habitat from the largest lake south of Lake Okeechobee.
The muck ranges from 9 inches to 9 feet in thickness in some parts of the lake. The water is already visibly improved now that there is less organic material inhibiting plant life. The South Florida Water Management District’s Randy Smith says vegetation will also be replanted to restore the lake to a thriving, healthy ecosystem.
“It will impact the fish population, the plant population, bird life around it – the fauna. It will be a true restoration and rehabilitation of Lake Trafford.”
The Lake Trafford project is part of Everglades restoration. During wet periods the lake periodically overflows its banks providing freshwater as the heart of the Corkscrew Swamp ecosystem
The lake historically has been a hot spot for fishing, boating and other activities. The project is supposed to be finished in November.
Wednesday, 03 May 2006 01:00