Celery Fields – Then for Farming – Now for Recreation
Up until the late 1980s, the area of Sarasota County known as “The Celery Fields” was used for just that – growing celery and other row crops. For decades, farmers stimulated crops with fertilizers, which eventually caused the soil’s arsenic levels to increase. While naturally occurring, arsenic is poisonous to people, and when Sarasota County decided to restore the Celery Fields, it was discovered that the arsenic levels exceeded the maximum allowed limit.
The goal of the $7.2 million Celery Field Regional Stormwater Facility expansion project was to provide flood protection, wetland restoration habitat, passive recreation, additional flood plain storage, and treatment for more than 3,600 acres of stormwater runoff. But first 1.2 million cubic yards of arsenic contaminated soil had to be removed.
Stanley Consultants was responsible for administering the construction contract and providing construction engineering and inspection services. The 45,500 tons of arsenic laden earth removed from the site was formed into an observation mound and then covered with two feet of clean dirt.