The harvest has begun in the northeast well field property. Approximately 200 acres of pine trees originally planted in 1997 and 1998 are being removed. In December of 2008, the State of Florida advised the City of Lakeland that rehydration of the well field was required. Rehydration is the process of removing all non-native vegetation.
As a result of the well field improvement plan, the trees will be removed during the spring of 2011. They will be cut, stripped and transported to be converted into pine mulch and lumber. The timber values will be used to help offset a portion of the project expense.
Prior to the project beginning, an environmental expert spent several weeks surveying, locating and marking the nearly 50 gopher tortoise burrows throughout the area. Great care will be taken to avoid disturbing these habitats as the tree removal continues.
Site observations indicate that the pine tree forests are drier than other open land areas. The dry conditions are attributed to the effects of a multiple year drought which has had a significant impact on Florida’s water resources.
The current pine tree forest will be replaced with a Bahia grass pasture which will reduce overall plant water demands, improve site hydrologic conditions, enhance surface water recharge of surface groundwater and improve wetland functions.
Bid prices ranged from $595,600 to $1,292,730 with Marcobay Construction’s proposal for $595,600 being below the engineer’s estimate of $904,104. The City Commission approved the construction agreement with Marcobay Construction Inc. of Lakeland, Florida on December 6, 2010.
The 860 acre Northeast Well Field serving the Combee Water Treatment Plant provides 4 million gallons of raw water per day.