Wastewater to Wetlands Program
Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility is operated by
Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) and is
authorized to discharge 8.2 MGD of reclaimed water to
the Bayou Marcus receiving wetland system. The wetland
system lies adjacent and discharges to Bayou Marcus, a
tributary of Perdido Bay near Pensacola, Florida.
Discharge of reclaimed water to the Bayou Marcus
wetland began in May of 1998. The wetland is split by
the Bayou Marcus Creek into the Northern and Southern
portions. Currently, discharge (ranging from 5.5 to
6.1 MGD, monthly) is only occurring in the Northern
half, which is approximately 650 acres of black titi,
slash pine, blackgum, gallberry, Atlantic white cedar,
bald cypress, and a mixture of bays.
discharge of consistently high quality effluent has
been key in the restoration of this previously damaged
due to illegal logging wetland system. An
expansive boardwalk was also built in the Northern
wetland that not only provides access to the wetland
for sampling and to the discharge piping system, but
also offers rare opportunity to tour a natural wetland
without getting your feet wet. Please see the story
below for more information.
Special Invitation to One of Northwest Florida's
Steve Woods, Bayou Marcus WRF Manager
and the Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility invite
you to take a walk on the recently completed Boardwalk
from our plant near Perdido Bay.
Boardwalk is a little different from the boardwalk at
the beach, but I guarantee you will see just as many
and maybe more exotic specie. The view can be summed
up simply by: "Take a walk through a real
Northwest Florida Wetland without getting your feet
are lots of critters to be seen. Snakes are NOT on the
boardwalk but lizards and frogs are. I once watched a
kid chasing lizards so much I laughed until I was out
of breath! The Boardwalk is built above the wetlands
to separate us from the Flora and Fauna and also to
support our discharge piping.
have a tremendous amount of birds on the site. Our
regular bird-watching visitors have recorded Ducks,
Hawks, Catbirds, Sparrows, Cardinals, Robins, Chimney
Swifts, Martins, Warblers, Finches, Herons, Doves,
Mockingbirds, and a host of others in their on-site
logbook. We have additionally spotted Bald Eagles,
Egrets, White Ibis, Falcons, Pelicans, Storks, Black
Skimmers, and we always have several nesting pairs of
Osprey's during the spring. We believe that the
abundance of fresh, clean water keeps the large and
diverse bird population on our site. That fresh, clean
water is out treated effluent of course! And that is
to the tune of more than 5.9 million gallons per day.
During the Fall, I plant Wheat, Rye, Oats, and Clover
so the birds and other animals have a good variety of
high protein vegetation to eat.
have a very good population of White Tailed Deer and
even a few Osceola Turkeys. For those walkers who can
quietly ease along, their reward may be a glimpse of a
group of feeding Deer or Turkeys. Gray Foxes,
Raccoons, Rabbits, Beavers, Bobcats, Turtles, Otters,
Snakes, and even Alligators are regulars on or around
the site, though not necessarily from the Boardwalk.
are 17 known Endangered, Threatened and Species of Special
Concern observed at the Bayou Marcus Wetlands. They are:
American Alligator; Eastern Indigo snake; Gopher tortoise;
Brown pelican; Lest tern; Pine woods bluestem; Spoon leaf
sundew; Pineland bogbutton; Panhandle lily; Southern
twayblade; Naked stem panic grass; Yellow butterwort;
Chapmanís butterwort; Southern butterwort; Rose pogonia;
White-top pitcher plant; and Parrot pitcher plant.
Southern Twayblade, a very rare orchid, was found within a
sampling transect. The occurrence of the orchid in Escambia
County represents a range extension for this species. Dr.
Loran Anderson of Florida State University has confirmed
that this species has not been previously recorded from
Escambia County. According to our biological contractor, the
application of our reclaimed water to the site has not
adversely affected the populations of the listed species
that are known to occur.
the Boardwalk is open for public enjoyment only during the
daylight hours, but for 365 days a year. I always reserve
the one condition where the Boardwalk may have short periods
of closure whenever we perform maintenance that may be
dangerous to an observer. To be honest, I have not had to
restrict access since we completed its construction. We get
an occasional onlooker while we work, but we will take that
opportunity to chat with them.
maintain a voice mail/message/info telephone line just for
announcements. But it is also a way for people to let me
know they would like to schedule a tour of the plant, they
would like additional information or just have a general
question. The phone number for Boardwalk Information is
different seasons require a few basic safety rules for
walking on the Boardwalk. And children should always be
accompanied by a sufficient amount of guardians. As much as
my staff would like to, we cannot help with that duty. Only
during a plant tour can I provide some support there.
the hot months, people should bring lots of cool fluids with
them to drink. The temperature in the wetlands is higher
than elsewhere and the humidity is always 100%! They should
wear light colored, loose fitting clothes and comfortable
walking shoes. I would discourage open toed shoes because
the Boardwalk is made of wood. As wood ages, it tends to
splinter. We try to keep those boards changed out, but there
will always be a hazard of splinters. The handrails splinter
a lot so children should be advised by their guardians to
not run their hands along the boards. The Boardwalk deck
also heats up as the day goes on so I would advise early
morning/late evening excursions. Most folks may also want to
wear a hat to keep the eyes and heat shaded.
the cold months, warm clothes and windbreaker jackets make
the walk comfortable. I like to wear jersey gloves and would
recommend them. Still bring lots of fluids, though a choice
between hot or cold beverages can be made.
is about 300 yards to the Boardwalk ramp, then a mile and a
half to the end. It goes one way so only go as far as you
are willing to walk back.
go on but I donít want to "swamp ya." However in
closing I MUST add, "donít forget your bug spray
during the warm months!" Come see us, but itís always
best to call the information line first.
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