Wastewater, nature coexist on farm
(Note: It's a $15 million project, and "...workers have put up the walls of a 10,000-square-foot, $2 million nature center that will highlight both local wildlife and the sewage-reuse process growing out of farmer Ted Winsberg's old vegetable fields." "I'm sure we'll have wildlife attracted right off the bat because this will be a little oasis in the middle of all this housing development." - Brenda Duffey, county water utilities spokeswoman. Where does Ms. Duffey think food comes from, the back room of the grocery store? How many more 'wildlife viewing areas' do we actually need? When do you suppose someone will question why none of America's food is being grown locally anymore? This dependency on foreign food supplies bodes ill for those seeking healthful food that hasn't been shipped from thousands of miles away and grown in unknown and under questionable conditions.)
January 3, 2004
By Neil Santaniello, staff writer
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Along gated-complex-lined Hagen Ranch Road, another old farm has disappeared under newly turned earth.
The ground is not being prepped for condos, though.
This time the land west of Delray Beach is going from peppers to pickerel weed in a $15 million project.
Seven years after the county struck a deal to buy 175 acres of Green Cay Farm and build a wetland on it to filter and conserve wastewater, bulldozers and backhoes finally are shoveling and plowing the idea into reality.
The machines are molding a patch of barren land, tucked between Valencia Falls and the L-30 canal, into an expanded version of the 50-acre Wakodahatchee Wetlands created by the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department.
One million gallons a day of chemically treated county wastewater flows into that marsh. Plants soak up some, while the rest either evaporates or seeps through the ground to re-supply the aquifer.
The county touts it as a more environmentally friendly alternative to pumping that water through deep injection wells a few thousand feet below the ground for permanent disposal.
The earth movers are shaping the Green Cay Wetland similarly, carving the contours of new marshes and ponds to hold and further filter chemically treated wastewater and tree islands that will lure wildlife along with the wetlands -- once aquatic plants and trees are planted.
On the same site, workers have put up the walls of a 10,000-square-foot, $2 million nature center that will highlight both local wildlife and the sewage-reuse process growing out of farmer Ted Winsberg's old vegetable fields.
Wakodahatchee quickly blossomed into a hot wildlife viewing area, drawing anhingas, cormorants, herons, turtles and rarely seen birds to its reedy and open waters and half-mile-long boardwalk.
That filter marsh now lures 125,000 visitors a year, including nature photographers and birders, according to the county.
Like Wakodahatchee, "I'm sure we'll have wildlife attracted right off the bat because this will be a little oasis in the middle of all this housing development," said Brenda Duffey, county water utilities spokeswoman.
Bought by the county for a song -- $15,000 an acre for land that could sell for 10 times that amount -- Green Cay will be three times the size of Wakodahatchee. Designed with lookout points for nature watchers, its boardwalk will wriggle 1.5 miles through wetlands.
Copyright 2003 South Florida Sun-Sentinel