Sinkholes postpone opening of Ocala Wetland Groundwater Recharge Park

Published: Jul. 26, 2019 at 6:46 PM EDT
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The City of Ocala is getting closer to opening its new Wetland Groundwater Recharge Park, but sinkholes have been opening up there, postponing the completion of the park.

The Wetland Groundwater Recharge Park is a 60-acre recreation ground, allowing residents to take in some beautiful views and benefit from recycled filtered water.

Water used for irrigation, drinking, and cooking will be filtered through the aquifer, and then pumped to the city's water treatment plant, for residents to use all over again.

Officials said this natural filtration system will reduce the City's environmental footprint by 50 percent, by recharging up to five million gallons a day.

But there have been some roadblocks during the construction of this new park.

"We've ha few, between 10 and 14 sinkholes, varying in sizes, most of them have been very small like a four inches pipe, something like that, what we call little chimneys and we've had about three or four bigger sinkholes between a four and five-foot round,” said Project Manager of the Recharge Park Jimmy Lopez.

But according to Environmental Scientist and Systems Ecologist with the Florida Springs Institute, Bob Knight, there isn't any need for concern.

Knight has over 38 years of experience as an aquatic and wetland ecologist in Florida.

"Having a sinkhole in the finished project would be a problem in terms of a direct connection but it's something that can be repaired as long as it's not too large and multiple sinkholes can be repaired and then growing the wetland plants out there will provide the benefits of removing nitrogen from the wastewater,” Knight said.

The Recharge Park was originally set to open this fall, but due to the sinkholes, this has been pushed back.

Contractors still need to do several tasks including planting the wetland plants in flooding areas.