The South Florida Water Management District this week issued two administrative complaints and orders for corrective action to protect the Grassy Waters Preserve, located in central Palm Beach County.
Water quality issues there were brought to light by the City of West Palm Beach during a Division of Administrative Hearings trial challenging the extension of State Road 7.
The administrative complaint addresses the surface water management system located adjacent to Grassy Waters, which consists of two parts. The first section contains a series of lakes operated by the Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District in the Ibis community. The second portion of the system is a 364-acre area known as the Ibis Preserve that is permitted to retain water onsite. This second area is owned by the City of West Palm Beach. Water flows from the Ibis lakes into the Ibis Preserve before entering the Grassy Waters Preserve.
According to the city, an accumulation of sediment in stormwater lakes in the Ibis community is causing excess nutrients such as phosphorus to flow into the Ibis retention area. These nutrients are not being effectively removed in the second part of the system owned by the city. The excess nutrients in turn are contributing to the growth of nuisance vegetation in the area where water is discharged from the city’s property into Grassy Waters Preserve.
During the hearing, the city presented evidence that the sediment and nutrient problem was caused by lack of routine maintenance in the Ibis community lakes, an issue that was previously unknown.
The Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District’s permit requires it to perform routine maintenance of the lakes. The administrative law judge suggested that the SFWMD take appropriate action to correct these issues.
The administrative complaints and orders for corrective action mean that the Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District and the City of West Palm Beach must develop and implement plans to correct these deficiencies.