Park Celebrates Construction of Restoration Component
On January 11th, Everglades National Park joined other federal and state partners at the C-111 Spreader Canal Western Project to celebrate the completion of a key component in improving freshwater deliveries to the southern end of the Everglades ecosystem.
A key component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), the C-111 Spreader Canal Western Project will help restore freshwater flows to Florida Bay, preserve clean water in Everglades National Park, and maintain flood control for eastern communities.
"Everglades restoration is not just an idea; today we celebrate that it is actually happening," said Dan Kimball, the park's superintendent. "This project is the first project in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan to provide direct benefits to Everglades National Park. It will keep the water that is in the park, in the park. At the same time, it assures that our neighbors to the east receive flood protection. This is a great example of a project that meets the broader ecosystem restoration goals of 'getting the water right,' 'restoring natural habitats and species,' and 'ensuring compatibility with the built environment.'"
Kimball expressed thanks to the State of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District, on behalf of the park and the Department of Interior, for deciding to invest the $30 million in this project and for moving forward with expedited construction.
"This is a great gift to Everglades National Park and to our visitors from the United States and from around the world," said Kimball. "The beauty of this project is both the partnership, and the tangible progress in meeting Everglades restoration goals. We are very grateful for our partnership with the State of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District."
With its series of pump stations and canals, the project raises groundwater levels directly outside the eastern boundary of Everglades National Park, creating a hydraulic barrier between the park and urban areas of Miami-Dade County that retains fresh water in the park.
The project will also help achieve healthy salinity levels in Florida Bay by restoring the quantity, timing and distribution of freshwater flows via Taylor Slough to the bay ecosystem.
Located at the southern tip of the Florida peninsula and spanning 850 square miles, Florida Bay comprises one third of Everglades National Park and is a valuable economic resource for the region. The bay's waters and sea grass beds serve as a nursery for an array of aquatic life and are home to dozens of commercially and recreationally important species such as spiny lobster, snapper and pink shrimp. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study found that Florida Bay contributed approximately $1.7 billion in the form of "destination spending" in one year alone.