In 2013, East County Water Control District experienced its highest rainfall over a five-year period and the district was still able to greatly reduce flows to the Caloosahatchee River by the operation of the new Halfway Pond Pump Station.
SFWMD funded the first phase of Moving Water South and the project was anticipated to add 100 feet of storage to the district's system; by October the district reported that 800 acre feet of stormwater were diverted from the river and stored in the pond.
The Halfway Pond Pump Station allows ECWCD to hold Halfway Pond at the maximum elevation, which is 28 feet above sea level.
In addition, it helps to reduce fresh water discharges to the estuaries, lengthen the hydro-periods in the wetlands, provide better water quality treatment, maximize storage and increase water levels in the aquifers.
The project involved the construction of a pump station and improvements to an existing weir on Panther Canal to allow ECWCD to more effectively regulate the flow of water.
According to District Manager David Lindsay, water used to flow south to the Imperial and Estero Rivers from the Halfway Pond area. However, during the development of Lehigh Acres during the 1950s water was redirected north. For many years this went unnoticed, even though water levels were increasing on the Orange River.
Phases II and III are projected to provide a much larger diversion of stormwater from the Caloosahatchee River and rehydrate water starved areas to the south of ECWCD.
A 2007 study indicated that Lehigh Acres has a water storage deficiency of approximately 15,000 acre-feet at full build out. Halfway Pond Pump Station is one of eight projects identified during the study which would help improve the area's water storage capacity.