Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wetlands and Water Treatment

The name, Wakodahatchee, is derived from the Seminole Indian language and translates as "created waters." The created waters at Wakodahatchee Wetlands are an example of people giving something back to nature. Fifty acres of unused utilities land have been transformed into a wetlands ecosystem. Every day, the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department's Southern Region Water Reclaimation Facility pumps approximately two million gallons of highly treated water into the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. By acting as a natural filter for the nutrients that remain, the wetlands work to further clense the water. As always, click any picture to see a larger version.

In addition to providing educational and recreational opportunities for the public and habitat for wildlife, the Green Cay Wetlands naturally filter several million gallons of highly treated water each day from Palm Beach County's Southern Region Water Reclamation Facility. The wetlands also help to recharge groundwater resources and keep water in the earth's water cycle. To accomplish this, Green Cay incorporates 86 different species of trees, shrubs, grasses and aquatic vegetation on a former vegetable farm.

Palm Beach County government takes care of water treatment and provides much needed wildlife and bird habitat at the same time. Boardwalks through and around both wetlands provide an unprecedented opportunity for birders to see and photograph a large variety of birds including wading birds, raptors, and migrants, along with multitudes of turtles, fish and, of course, alligators. Small islands with trees are filled with nesting Anhingas and Great Blue Herons. Even non-birders are amazed at the birds easily seen and heard and appreciate a little help from someone who knows the names of those beautiful birds. How often will a visitor, in Florida for only a week, have an opportunity to observe courting and nesting behavior of wetlands birds? You could traipse out into the wilds of the Everglades on an airboat, and still not have a good chance. At Wakodahatchee, however, several small islands provided a rookery with nestlings of various ages and development levels. It makes a mother appreciate the efforts of other parents, and be glad that she can feed her babies with a spoon, and not by regurgitating fish for them. At least the Anhinga doesn't have to wash dishes or change diapers! This Anhinga couple are still courting, and their eyes change colors to show their readiness to mate. Big Kudos to the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department for some wise decisions. Imagine, supporting the environment, wildlife and tourism at the same time! It can be done. This baby Great Blue Heron and I thank you!

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