Wastewater to Wetlands Program
Easterly Wetlands -
first flow - 8 million gallons per day (mgd) of reclaimed water - entered
the wetlands in July 1987. In 1988, flows were increased to approximately
13 mgd. Annual average flows remained slightly under 13 mgd until 1994.
Since 1995, flows have been approaching the 20-mgd permitted capacity.
Today the city anticipates increasing the permitted capacity to 35 mgd.
With more than a decade of operational data as evidence, the Orlando
Easterly Wetlands has demonstrated that reclaimed water can successfully
be used to restore wetlands and recreate wildlife habitat. For this
reason, the State of Florida considers it to be a beneficial reuse system
in the Florida Department of Environmental Protectionís Reuse Inventory.
Average concentration of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) as
reclaimed water has remained consistently below permit limits of 2.31 mg/L
TN and 0.20 River, and a considerable improvement over the quality of
agricultural runoff from the site prior to its transformation into a
wetland. Samples are collected in the river upstream and downstream of the
Orlando Easterly Wetlands.
With a wetland system in place and outstanding water quality
established, the city has concentrated on enhancing the wildlife habitat
aspects of its wetlands project. Nearly two-thirds of the Orlando Easterly
Wetlands project was designed to encourage and maximize wildlife usage.
The mixed marsh area is managed to maintain open water areas and to
prevent encroachment of nuisance vegetation. A 90-acre lake located in the
area planted with hardwood swamp species also enhances wildlife habitat.
Nearly 200 bird and animal species, including numerous threatened and
endangered ones, now make their home in the Orlando Easterly Wetlands.
Prior to the wetlands project, the site had hosted less than two dozen
As testimony to the success of the wetlands as wildlife habitat, the
Orlando Easterly Wetlands has been documented as the northernmost nesting
area of the Everglades snail kite. This endangered species previously had
only been observed as far north as Kissimmee, following its decline in the
mid-1900s. The Everglades snail kite feeds on apple snails, a species that
typically resides in high quality waters, which are provided at the
Orlando Easterly Wetlands.
All areas of the project are actively managed to provide floral
habitats that are conducive to nutrient uptake. In addition to these
management activities, special attention and care are given to the
threatened, endangered, or otherwise listed floral and faunal species
occurring on site. Seventeen state-listed plants have been identified at
the Orlando Easterly Wetlands.
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