Wetlands
Wetlands

Cat Customer Collaborates On Aquifer Recharging Project

The Phillips family had a front-row seat to severe damage to their lakes and wetlands. They turned their 4G Ranch into the largest man-made aquifer system designed to recycle groundwater in the world.


By Caterpillar | Posted: September 30, 2020 | Revised: March 28, 2022

In recent years, Floridians living in Pasco County have watched helplessly as their lakes and wetlands have dried up, leading to a damaged ecosystem.

The Phillips family, owners of the 4G Ranch in Pasco County, Florida, had a front-row seat to the severe dehydration. They witnessed firsthand as their lakes and wetlands drained and, gradually, disappeared.

Rehydrating A Damaged Ecosystem

Knowing the importance of reliable local water resources, Pasco County officials reached out to local landowners to gage interest in a potential project that would rehydrate the impacted areas.

The Phillips family, as founders of Phillips and Jordan, Inc. a long-time Cat® customer were interested and partnered with the county and Jacobs Engineering Group on the project – the 4G Wetlands. According to Jacobs, is the largest man-made aquifer system designed to recycle groundwater in the world.

“P&J was involved from the start,” said Heath Stone, corporate project manager for P&J. “So, it was interesting to see the concept - which was going to have such an extensive environmental impact – come to fruition.”

High Impact Project

The project involved the construction of 15 independent cells (pond and surrounding area), each with unique design features and specific planting/seeding species. It is intended to complement an existing reclaimed water reservoir with a goal of balancing wet and dry weather needs in the region.

“Those cells weren’t just squares,” Stone said. “Jacobs designed the cells to blend in with the natural ground and existing wetlands. We took the CAD files, created models, and used grade control on Cat equipment to fine tune the final shaping of the cells making sure they met the exact design specifications.”

In total, the project created 133 acres that allowed for 5 million gallons per day (MGD) of reclaimed water to refill heavily-depleted aquifers, including the Floridian aquifer, which supplies drinking water for more than 2-million people in the Tampa Bay area.  P&J performed all earthwork operations, including excavation, placement of embankment and topsoil, and installation of the piping network. 

Award Winning Effort

The project received numerous awards, including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies National Environmental Achievement Award, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists Design Honor Award, and the Engineering News-Record Southeast’s 2019 Award of Merit in the water/environment category. Stone says it was a team effort from start to finish, giving credit to the county, the engineering firm, and Caterpillar.

“Phillips and Jordan has an excellent relationship with Caterpillar,” Stone said. “If we had a piece of equipment go down or needed something additional, the team at Caterpillar did whatever we needed to help get the project built. Our long-standing collaboration with Cat helped us know that if we needed more equipment, we’re always able to source it.”

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