DEP Assists SFWMD In Acquiring Key Everglades Restoration Land

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection today assisted in the closing of a purchase of 1,800 acres in Palm Beach County that will help provide freshwater flows to the Loxahatchee River and repurpose the L-8 Reservoir to serve as a key component of Governor Rick Scott’s Everglades Restoration Strategies plan.

The Department will use $26 million from the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund to allow the South Florida Water Management District to purchase Mecca Farms property. In October, the District approved the acquisition from Palm Beach County. Upon closing, the District will work on design and construct a system of pump stations that will move water onto the site in order to provide 7,200 acre-feet of storage.

The purchase continues Florida’s investment in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, which is a 50/50 federal/state partnership. The L-8 Reservoir was originally purchased for CERP, but will now be used as part of Governor Scott’s Everglades restoration plan. In turn, the Mecca Farms purchase will contribute to improving the flow of water to the Loxahatchee River as part of CERP. The Loxahatchee River is a federally designated “Wild and Scenic” river.

The Mecca Farms property is west of the Beeline Highway. The property will become a shallow-water storage area, capable of sending water directly to the river. The plan also calls for control structures that will allow for water to flow east through the C-18 Canal and into the Northwest Fork of the river. This setup will supplement water flow to the river during dry season to meet minimum flows and levels and help prevent saltwater intrusion, which benefits mangroves.

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