By Jim Bays, CH2M HILL Natural Treatment Systems Technology Fellow
Mr. Bays will be presenting the paper, “More Than a Pretty Space: Stormwater Treatment Wetlands with Multiple Benefits at Freedom Park, Naples FL,” with Margaret Bishop, Collier County Senior Project Manager, during WEFTEC on Wednesday, October 3, at 1.30pm in Room 256. Learn more about CH2M HILL’s WEFTEC 2012 participation and technical sessions.
To help reduce loading to Naples Bay FL, the Collier County Stormwater Division constructed Freedom Park in 2009, a water quality park consisting of a 50-ac facility for flood relief and tertiary treatment of stormwater runoff from the Gordon River watershed. The project combines ponds, wetlands, habitat restoration, trails, boardwalks, educational facilities, and natural landscaping within a passive park setting designed to intrigue and educate nature enthusiasts. The project is owned by Collier County Stormwater Management Division and funded by grants from the County and the South Florida Water Management District/Big Cypress Basin and Florida Communities Trust.
Based on the application of an interconnected system of multi-depth ponds, polishing marshes and wetlands, the man-made park functions as a natural filtration system in an urban setting using Everglades-type passive stormwater treatment technologies. A passive periphyton marsh was included for advanced phosphorus removal. Water pumped from contributing ditches is treated by natural processes through 6.7 ac of constructed wetlands. Performance data indicate 84% reduction in total phosphorus and 37% total nitrogen concentrations through the marshes, with outflow concentrations at or near the biogeochemical minimum possible for these waters. Water pumped from the Gordon River during periods of low flow will reduce river phosphorus and nitrogen loads by 32% and 71%, respectively. Natural wetlands were restored by removal of non-native plants and supplemented with native species. Native upland habitat formerly in citrus groves was restored and is preserved as an on-site habitat reserve.
Centered around a 4.7-ac lake, the park includes more than 3,500 ft of boardwalk that allows unique access into marshes and restored cypress forest. An educational facility was designed to meet sustainability objectives while allowing the site to perform multiple civic functions. Other amenities include six lookout pavilions, water fountains, educational and information signage, and walking trails. Crews worked for 18 months to build the park at a construction cost of $10 million. The public has embraced Freedom Park, with visitor use increasing steadily from year to year.
Freedom Park provides an excellent example of an innovative natural stormwater facility design that provides multiple benefits while achieving new standards of wetland park landscape design. I look forward to discussing the project further during WEFTEC alongside Collier County’s Margaret Bishop.
Mr. Bays was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Everglades Wetlands Research Park, a facility designed to provide teaching, research, and service related to wetland, river, and coastal science and ecological engineering. He has more than 29 years of experience in the fields of wetland ecology, limnology, wildlife and terrestrial ecology, aquatic biology, and aerial photographic interpretation, specializing in the planning and design of multi-purpose wetlands for wildlife habitat, water quality treatment, aquifer recharge, and public recreation. He has prepared ecological assessments and conceptual and detailed designs for constructed and natural wetlands systems for the treatment of municipal and industrial effluent for numerous municipalities and service districts. He has provided numerous technical reviews of feasibility studies for treating a wide range of municipal, stormwater and industrial effluents across the United States and internationally.Tags: CH2M HILL Access Water, Collier County, education, Freedom Park, natural treatment, natural treatment systems, restoration, stormwater, water blog, WEFTEC, WEFTEC 2012, wetlands