March 9, 2015
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) for the first phase of the Rolling Meadows Restoration Project. The project will restore about 2,000 acres of natural wetland habitat and reconnect hydrologic flows to Lake Hatchineha, ultimately restoring water flow into the Kissimmee River and helping restore Lake Okeechobee.
“Restoring the health of the Lake Okeechobee watershed is a challenging and important undertaking,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett. “Restoring the Rolling Meadows property is an essential step in promoting healthy water flow from the Kissimmee Lakes into Lake Okeechobee.”
The Rolling Meadows Restoration Project is part of a statewide effort to restore and protect Florida’s water quality. It is the first new restoration project to be permitted within the Lake Okeechobee Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), since the restoration plan’s adoption in December 2014. The Lake Okeechobee BMAP identifies a variety of projects to relieve the lake of large influxes of phosphorus-rich water.
“We have seen great success to date with Kissimmee River restoration and continue to focus efforts on this crucial area in the headwaters of the Everglades,” said Jeff Kivett, SFWMD division director of operations, engineering and construction. “We can now get to work on Rolling Meadows and its designed improvements to water quality and for additional water storage north of Lake Okeechobee.”
The Rolling Meadows Restoration Project is located on property that encompasses approximately 5,787 acres in eastern Polk County, bordered to the north by Lake Hatchineha, to the west by Catfish Creek and to the south by Camp Mack Road. It is part of the federally authorized Kissimmee Headwaters Revitalization Project, under the larger Kissimmee River Restoration Project that is being undertaken by the SFWMD in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The construction portion of project is scheduled to occur from May 2015 to July 2016.