Conservation Corner – April 2020

Jeff Maggio and Mike Lambrechts discussing the second sewer line break at George English Park.
Jeff Maggio and Mike Lambrechts discussing the second sewer line break at George English Park.

George English Park suffered its second catastrophic spill in a short period of time when another section of sewer pipe broke, spilling millions of gallons of raw sewage into the park, adjacent streets, and ultimately into George English Lake and surrounding waters. The City of Fort Lauderdale was able to get a fix in a couple days, but not until after an unmitigated, free flow of sewage created a virtual lake of sewage.

While CCA has been quite vocal about the State of Florida upgrading infrastructure and working to alleviate the State’s own water quality issues, the organization has been hard at work to at least begin one element of waterway remediation in Fort Lauderdale. CCA’s Fort Lauderdale Oyster Project has launched this month, and it has launched in a big way. CBS4 News covered a visit to a Lauderdale Harbors home where Mike Lambrechts and Brock Pecknold were setting an oyster catcher and taking salinity and temperature measurements. The Sun-Sentinel covered the story as well, and it made the front page of the Sunday newspaper. That visit will be one of about a hundred in various areas in Fort Lauderdale and the pilot project will determine several facts about Fort Lauderdale’s waterways such as what areas can sustain oyster growth and what areas can’t. Other data about salinity and temperature will help determine what conditions they will thrive in. Once that information is analyzed after a year or so, CCA will feel more confident about determining what the next steps in the process may be in order to scale up and put oysters in areas that need them.

It is important to note that this project is simply just a step in the beginning of the remediation process that these waterways so desperately need, as they’ve suffered decades of neglect. Other ideas have been suggested as well, such as mangrove planting in areas that formerly had the growth and have since been developed. It’s been noted that there are many sea walls in Fort Lauderdale that would look great with mangroves planted in front of them.

Next month brings the deployment of the second and third phases of the John Michael Baker Memorial Reef offshore of Birch State Park in 70 feet of water. Because of Hurricane Dorian, plans for Phase Two were postponed to this year. In two days of deployments, more than a quarter million pounds of concrete will be strategically placed on the seafloor to supplement the already thriving Phase One. The new additions will form a trail closer to several other wrecks in the area to add the to the famous scuba dive known as the Wreck Trek.

Vice President, CCA Florida
President – Broward County Chapter
Coastal Conservation Association Florida
501(C)(3) Non-Profit Organization