The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board on Thursday approved expediting the installation of several culverts in coastal Miami-Dade County as part of the District’s ongoing investment in restoring Biscayne Bay.
“The District has invested more than $100 million to restore Biscayne Bay’s coastal wetlands, and we will likely invest hundreds of millions more before the project is done because the health of Biscayne Bay is crucial to the local community and Everglades,” said SFWMD Governing Board Member Federico Fernandez, a longtime Miami-Dade resident and proponent of restoring Biscayne Bay. “With this work to expedite the installation of several culverts, as well as the exciting interagency partnership forming called the Biscayne Bay Restoration Initiative, the District is taking action to help the Bay.”
The plan, passed by the Governing Board today, amends a Project Partnership Agreement between SFWMD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to build the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project. The amendment allows the District to proceed with the installation of four culverts along the L-31 East Flow-way region and receive federal cost share. This action will increase the flow of fresh water to the coastal wetlands.
Restoration of Biscayne Bay relies on collaboration between governmental agencies, including Miami-Dade County. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, a strong advocate for restoring Biscayne Bay, praised SFWMD’s action. Commissioner Cava said that as a result of prior joint efforts, the County is already observing significant improvement in coastal restoration and freshwater flows.
“The wetland restoration across Deering Estate Park land has shown how quickly the plants and wildlife can recover in Biscayne Bay,” said Commissioner Cava. “The District’s prior work has shown how we can succeed together. This next project will help return much needed fresh water to southern Biscayne Bay in a more natural way, which will go a long way in helping restore freshwater flow to the Bay. I wish to thank Board Member Fernandez and the leadership at the South Florida Water Management District for accelerating this important work.”
Commissioner Cava recently joined 50 volunteers, including Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene Flinn, to help beautify the Bay through a planting and clean-up effort in areas affected by Hurricane Irma. Last year, Commissioner Cava also sponsored an action approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission, giving 45 acres of county-owned land to the National Park Service to help restore freshwater flows to the Bay’s coastal wetlands.
About the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands ProjectLand acquisition and construction is well underway on the first phase of this project, which aims to improve the delivery of water to Biscayne National Park, redistribute the flow of fresh water to help reduce point source discharges and re-establish connectivity between coastal wetlands. A pump station, temporary pumps and other features have already been completed and have been operating since 2012.
To date, SFWMD has redirected more than 65,000 acre-feet of fresh water to the wetlands from project components in the Deering Estate region. This water is in addition to another 38,000 acre-feet of water that has been directed to the wetland from the previous enhancements to the L-31 East Flow-way. Completion of Phase I infrastructure is critical to ensuring any future phases can be successfully implemented.