New Hybrid Wetland technology could help clean Martin County waterways

The waterways along the Treasure Coast are no longer polluted with toxic water and green algae blooms.

But now, Martin County is working to keep the water quality from becoming a larger problem during the next rainy season.

Martin County Commissioners voted Tuesday to allow the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to lease land on the Bessey Creek Property, a Storm water Treatment Area, in Palm City.

The FDACS plans to implement a new technology for Martin County in addition to the current Storm water treatment systems in place.

Hybrid Wetland/Chemical Treatment Technology combines chemical treatment with conventional wetlands treatment, pulling water through a pump station and treating it with a chemical to eliminate as much phosphorous as possible from water. The water is then further polished through floating and submerged vegetation ponds.

The treatment targets fertilizer runoff and urban runoff that carries phosphorous to the St. Lucie River.

That Phosphorous can be blamed for algae blooms and some toxic conditions.

Six areas north of Lake Okeechobee have used the technology and found that it filtered out 65%-95% more phosphorous than the older storm water treatment systems.

“It’s really about looking at our own local water sheds and our local water bodies and cleaning those things up where we can affect that influence,” said Martin County Ecosystems Manager, Deborah Drum.

She says it doesn’t tackle the problems related to Lake Okeechobee releases, but it is an important local effort to gain some control.

For fishermen like Tom Salter, this means the clear water he’s enjoying now could stick around in years to come.

He used to fish at Sandsprit Park in Stuart regularly before the water took a turn for the worse.

“I hope the water’s nice this summer,” Salter said.

The Bessey Creek project is not expected to be complete for one more year.

The FDACS would also like to implement the technology at the Danforth Creek location in the future.