Lake Worth Lagoon Steering Committee Holds Quarterly Meeting

Sept. 25, 2104

~Committee oversees lagoon initiatives~

The Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative Steering Committee continues its efforts during this week’s meeting to discuss current issues in the Lake Worth Lagoon. The steering committee consists of representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection, South Florida Water Management District, Florida Inland Navigation District, Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners and Palm Beach County League of Cities. The committee meets quarterly to exchange information about the lagoon and initiatives focused on habitat, public outreach and water.

To guide its efforts, the committee adopted the Lake Worth Management Plan and updated it in July 2014. The plan update identifies specific restoration goals and objectives and focuses on water and sediment quality, public outreach, interagency planning and coordination, habitat restoration, enhancement, monitoring, and funding. It also summarizes progress made over the last five years toward restoring and enhancing the Lake Worth Lagoon ecosystem.

“Human activities over the past 100 years have impacted the water quality of the lagoon as well as marine habitat,” said Jill Creech, DEP Southeast District director. “Since 1987, multiple partners have worked together to implement efforts to benefit the lagoon. I look forward to the department’s continued participation in this important partnership.”

The committee was formed to address historic challenges to the lagoon. These include issues like the construction of permanent inlets, dredging and filling of wetlands along the shoreline, channel dredging, and wastewater discharges.

Implemented projects over the past 20 years have included the creation and enhancement of valuable habitat and implementation of stormwater retrofits to improve water quality. Examples include the Westgate Infrastructure Improvement project, which consisted of replacing an existing septic sewer system with a sanitary sewer system. The elimination of the septic system protects the lagoon from sewage discharges. Also, the West Palm Beach Stormwater Master Plan was created to reduce the amount of trash entering the lagoon.

Despite the success of the past 20 years, challenges remain. Upcoming projects in the Lake Worth Lagoon include the Palm Beach Grassy Flats Restoration Project, which will provide additional muck management in the lagoon. The project will provide seagrass, mangrove and reef habitat, as well as an open area for bird foraging. Another upcoming project is the Peanut Island Reef Complex in Riviera Beach, which will provide artificial reef habitat to benefit marine life.

To celebrate lagoon restoration efforts and increase awareness Palm Beach County is hosting LagoonFest on Nov. 1. Activities to be offered at LagoonFest incude live music, wildlife presentations, exhibits and lagoon tours.

The Lake Worth Lagoon is located in Palm Beach County, running approximately 20 miles parallel to the coast. This valuable urban estuary is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands. Two permanent, man-made inlets, the Lake Worth Inlet and the South Lake Worth Inlet, make it possible for saltwater to mix with freshwater from canals. The Lake Worth Lagoon runs parallel to the coast and features two permanent, man-made inlets. It contains a variety of abundant life, including fish, sea grass and mangroves.

Additional information on the Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative can be found here.

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