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Politics

Kissimmee River Nearly Back to Historic Conditions

May 18, 2017 - 6:00am
The completed backfilling of the MacArthur Ditch section of the Kissimmee River
The completed backfilling of the MacArthur Ditch section of the Kissimmee River

A crucial undertaking generations in the making, the Kissimmee River Restoration Project is now within sight of the finish line.

"The Kissimmee River is part of the heart of Florida and key to the restoration of America's Everglades," said South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe, in a news release distributed by the Water Management District. "Through our partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we are restoring the river and protecting it for the enjoyment of generations of Floridians to come."
 
The Kissimmee River Restoration Project was first devised in 1976 after channelization of the naturally curving river for flood protection had the unintended consequence of eliminating crucial floodplain wetlands and degrading the ecosystem along the river. The SFWMD Governing Board and Army Corps entered an equal cost-sharing partnership in 1994 to backfill 22 miles of the C-38 Canal and reconnect 44 miles of river channel to mimic historic flows.
 
"The on-the-ground benefits we are delivering with the Kissimmee River Restoration project truly exemplify the power of our federal-state partnership," said Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander. "Together, we are successfully restoring the Kissimmee River to provide essential ecological and operational benefits to South Florida and together, we will bring this project to completion."
 
So far, 14 miles of the canal have been backfilled, 6 miles of river channel have been re-carved and 24 miles of river channel re-established. In total, more than 15,000 acres of habitat have been physically restored. The Reach 2 construction contract, which includes backfilling 6.5 miles of the C-38 Canal and removal of the S-65C water control structure, is currently under way. 
 
Work on the final phases of construction, including construction of the S-69 Weir, is expected to begin later this year, and construction on the entire project is expected to be completed by 2020. Upon completion of construction, a new regulation schedule will be implemented for water control structure S-65 in the Upper Chain of Lakes that feeds the Kissimmee River. The new regulation schedule will increase water levels in lakes Kissimmee, Cypress and Hatchineha to provide water volumes required for delivery downstream to meet river restoration goals once construction is completed.
 
Environmental monitoring, approved by the SFWMD Governing Board and conducted by SFWMD staff, shows that the work is already having an enormous benefit on the ecosystem. In Reach 1 of the restoration project, which was completed in 2001, concentrations of dissolved oxygen, a key measure of the health of the river for the recovery of fish and aquatic organisms, continue to meet or exceed expectations. Monitoring has also shown the growth and recovery of native bird communities along the river, including the white ibis, great egret, blue heron and waterfowl.

Comments

They tore out those 200 year old oak trees and burned them. I guess it may take a while for it to really be back to historic conditions. However, I am pleased they are trying to restore nature, maybe we should not be so fast to change things that are natural.

Isn't the headline very misleading? It is wonderful that any portion of the River is restored, but there is great deal more work to be done. The restoration project addresses less than half of the damage that was done when the ditch was dug. Fix the entire River, then we can say that the Kissimmee River is back to historic conditions.

Other than Congress the Army Corps of Engineers probably the most destructive of all the federal agencies. Certainly, they never met a river they didn't want to turn into a ditch. Take a look at the Mississippi and then remember Katrina. Of course, Louisiana one of the historically most corrupt states starting with Hughey selling it to the Mob and Big Oil. The Mob and Big Oil still own it. There are a fraction of the wetlands that used to exist there - leading to a large degree for the Katrina mess. A lot of serious scholars are convinced that Carlos Marcello is who killed Kennedy. No one hated Jack - EVERYBODY except Marylyn hated Bobby. So they destroyed the Kissimmee and now for a few billion we have a mock half assed fix job.

It was the State of Florida and the Army Corp that channelized the river in the first place

ALL credit goes to Johnny Jones (1932-2010) who alone ramroded to get this done. Johnny made a deathbed promise to his father-in-law that the Kissimmee would be put back.

Fantastic! Success of water management in Florida is so critical to our survival in Florida. Well done!

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