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Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility
Bayou Marcus Wetland Discharge

Domestic Wastewater to Wetlands Program
Bayou Marcus Wetland


The 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.

The 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 Best-Kept Secrets:

Bayou Marcus Wetland Boardwalkby Steve Woods, Bayou Marcus WRF Manager

ECUA and the Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility invite you to take a walk on the recently completed Boardwalk from our plant near Perdido Bay.

This 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 muddy."

There 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.

We 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.

We 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.

BogbuttonsThere 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.White-top Pitcher Plant

The 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.

Generally, 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.

We 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 (850) 458-1658.

The 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.

Bayou Marcus CreekDuring 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.

During 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.

The walk 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.

I could 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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Last updated: September 21, 2011

  2600 Blair Stone Road M.S. 3500   Tallahassee, Florida 32399   850-245-8336 (phone) / 850-245-8356 (fax) 
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