A crucial undertaking generations in the making, the Kissimmee River Restoration Project is now within sight of the finish line, reports the South Florida 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,” said South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe.
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 the 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.
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 underway.
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.