In the mid-1980s, confronting explosive population growth and a dramatic acceleration of demand for wastewater treatment, the City of Orlando embarked on a bold experiment. It purchased 1,650 acres of degraded pasture land and converted the land into a constructed wetland, a network of carefully designed impoundments that provide natural biological secondary treatment of municipal wastewater before it is released into the nearby St. John’s River.
Today that project is a popular recreation destination, Orlando Wetlands Park, the world’s first manmade wetland designed to provide both water treatment and wildlife habitat. Many of the visitors exploring the diverse wetland environments, botanizing and birdwatching, have no idea that this pristine nature reserve receives up to 35 million gallons of wastewater per day!
Main Street is working in close collaboration with the Orlando Public Works Department to tell this remarkable story in a new Education Center at the Park. Stylized three-dimensional exhibits will take guests on a journey through deep marsh, mixed marsh, and hardwood swamp habitats – the same route the city’s water follows during its month-long passage.