News

ECUA’s Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility is Where Northwest Florida's Wildlife Calls Home
02/28/2011

Bayou Marcus

Since 1997, the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority’s (ECUA) Bayou Marcus Water Reclamation Facility (BMWRF), located in Pensacola at 3050 Fayal Drive, is the recipient of 2 Gold and 9 Silver Awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. The facility is also known for its Boardwalk, which spans coastal wetlands, near Perdido Bay. It’s part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, a 2,000-mile, and self-guided highway trail connecting nearly 500 birding sites throughout Florida.

The Trail is a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, supported in part by the Florida Department of Transportation and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. It’s divided into four sections; the East, West, Panhandle, and South Florida areas.  For a list of individual Birding Trail sites, with information and contact phone numbers, go to www.floridabirdingtrail.com.

ECUA District 1 Board Member, Ms. Elizabeth Campbell added, “I consider the Boardwalk to be one of the Emerald Coast's "hidden gems". It's a rare win-win situation that uses nature's own filtration system, preserves our wetlands and provides public access for recreation without disturbing the natural habitat.

I've taken people ranging from my Girl Scout troop to visitors from across the globe to the Boardwalk at the Bayou Marcus WRF, and I always hear the same comment, "but it doesn't smell!" I only hope that more local residents take the opportunity to enjoy ECUA's "green practice" gem.

Boardwalk

The Boardwalk is built above the Bayou Marcus Wetlands, offering visitors an opportunity to walk through an authentic Northwest Florida wetland ecosystem, which provides spectacular views, and an up-close opportunity to see wildlife that’s indigenous to the area.  The abundance of fresh, clean water, which is reclaimed water from the Bayou Marcus WRF averaging approximately,  6.2 million gallons per day, keeps the large and diverse bird population, as well as, White Tailed Deer, Osceola Turkeys, Gray Foxes, Raccoons, Rabbits, Beavers, Bobcats, Turtles, Otters, Snakes, and even Alligators on and around the site.

There are 17 known Endangered, Threatened and Species of Special Concern observed at the Bayou Marcus Wetlands. They are American Alligator, Eastern Indigo snake, Gopher tortoise, brown pelican, Lest tern, Pine woods bluestem, Spoon leaf sundew, Pineland bogbutton, Panhandle lily, Southern twayblade, Naked stem panic grass, Yellow butterwort, Chapman’s butterwort, Southern butterwort, Rose pogonia, White-top pitcher plant, and the Parrot pitcher plant.

The walk is about 300 yards to the Boardwalk ramp, from the parking area, then a mile and a half to the end. It is not a loop, so it’s recommended to only go as far as you are willing to walk back.

The different seasons require a few basic safety rules:

  • During the warm months, bring cool fluids to drink. The temperature in the Wetlands is higher than elsewhere, and the humidity is always 100%!
  • Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothes, and comfortable walking shoes.
  • The wooden deck heats up as the day goes on, so early morning or late afternoon excursions are advised. You may also want to wear a hat to provide shade.
  • During the cooler months, warm clothes and a windbreaker jacket will help make the walk comfortable.
  • Children should always be accompanied by an adult guardian.
  • And don’t forget the bug spray during the warm months!

Generally, the Boardwalk is open year-round for the public to enjoy, but we allow access only during the daylight hours. We maintain a Boardwalk communications line, which provides updated information. Come see us, but it’s always best to call the information line first at (850) 458-1658.