Wharton-smith Celebrates Ribbon-cutting of New Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Sanford, FL – June 15, 2015 – Wharton-Smith is proud to have been a partner of the new Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville. The project team joined with dignitaries and special guests from the City of Gainesville, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), design team members of Jones Edmunds, and various funding, regulatory, and contributing partners last week to celebrate the ribbon cutting.

See pictures from the event on our Flickr site.

Revitalizing wetlands and wildlife habitat

The new Sweetwater Wetlands Park is a beautiful habitat with trails, boardwalks and outdoor amenities offering breathtaking views of natural wildlife. The project is part of an ambitious plan to improve water quality in the Alachua Sink and restore more than 1,300 acres of wetlands in the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. The new 125-acre enhancement wetland uses a naturally sustainable filtration system to remove sediment and trash while reducing nutrient loads in order to meet federal requirements. The wetland not only provides protection for the Floridan Aquifer, but establishes a natural habitat for wildlife and creates opportunities for public recreation, wildlife study and education.

As Construction Manager for the project, Wharton-Smith oversaw all efforts to construct the wetland including moving over one million cubic yards of earthwork and filling in two miles of agricultural drainage canals to restore the natural sheet flow of water across the wetlands. The construction also excavated, reshaped, restored, and stabilized the site, building water control structures and three, 75-acre wetland cells planted with specific vegetation to naturally remove nitrogen from the water as it filters through the cells before being released onto the Prairie. The project also included construction of a visitors center, education center, public restrooms, natural trails, boardwalks, observation towers, ranger residence facilities, and associated site work. Wharton-Smith self performed a portion of the work.

“We are extremely proud to have been a contributing partner for this amazing project,” said David Lewis, Project Executive at Wharton-Smith. “This was a complex project, not only because the amount of earthwork involved, but also because it required stringent stormwater pollution practices and partnering with multiple regulatory agencies to ensure we were protecting the environment at all times. The result is an incredible park that will serve the residents of Gainesville, Alachua County, and the State of Florida for generations to come.”