Title: Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM): Sunnyhill Farm
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00001421/00001
 Material Information
Title: Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM): Sunnyhill Farm
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM): Sunnyhill Farm
General Note: Box 8, Folder 5 ( Vail Conference, 1995 - 1995 ), Item 35
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00001421
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Surface Water Improvement and Management



Fact Sheet

Restoration project corrects "progress"

The St. Johns River Water
Management District is attempting
to turn back the clock and restore a
segment of the Upper Oklawaha
River to its original, pristine state.
Water quality has suffered
because rapid urbanization and
intensive agricultural practices have
dramatically increased the amount
of nutrients going into the river.
Nature's way of flushing out
nutrients and sediments has been
diminished by the construction of
dams and canals. Development has
also resulted in substantial losses in
wetlands and other habitats.

By restoring the natural wet-
lands, the SJRWMD is returning
part of Central Florida to the way it
was when settlers first made their
way up the Oklawana. The river
gets its name from the Seminole
word "Okli-waha", meaning "great
river". It drains portions of Alachua,
Lake, Marion, Orange, Polk and
Putnam counties.
As part of the state's Surface
Water Improvement and Manage-
ment (SWIM) program, the District
intends to restore the channelized
river and associated wetlands in
and around Sunnyhill Farm, a
4,000-acre muck farm/dairy opera-
tion purchased by
the District in
September 1988.
lyhill Located in
m southern Marion
County, Sunnyhill
Farm runs north
along the east bank
of the Oklawaha
River canal from
'I S.R. 42 on the
south to near Moss
Bluff. The farm
property is border-
ed on the north and
Eusts east by the Ocala
National Forest.
i\- Nearly 2,400
S acres of the prop-
41, erty consists of old
S441 floodplain which
1, was diked off and
drained for agricul-
tural purposes in
the early 1900s.

The old river channel still exists,
but is filled with sediment and vege-
The District's Upper Oklawaha
River Basin SWIM plan calls for the
re-establishment of the floodplain
wetlands on the site. To accomplish
this, the old river channel will be
cleaned out, drainage ditches filled
and interior levees breached. This
will allow water to flow unimpeded
through the system.
Some of the water passing
through the Moss Bluff lock and
dam will be diverted to Sunnyhill
Farm to re-establish the flow
through the river system that once
existed, restoring the historic river
and floodplain.
There will be four major benefits
to returning the Oklawaha River to
its natural system:
restoration of wildlife habitat
improvement in quality of
water passing through the restored
expanded flood storage
increased recreational
Little water has been pumped
from the fields since the District
purchased the property. Wetland
vegetation now dominates much of
the land, attracting many animal
species to the property and making
it one of the premier bird habitat
areas in Central Florida.
With continued District efforts, the
restoration of Sunnyhill Farm and
the Upper Oklawaha River Basin
will provide important benefits for
years to come.


A great egret surveys the newly-
formed wetlands.

Wetland is wildlife magnet
Numerous wading and marsh
birds now nest in the newly formed
wetlands, and nearly 3,000 wading
birds fly to the property each day to
feed. Another 4,000 ducks have
made Sunnyhill Farm their winter
Species listed as rare, threatened *
or of special concern including os-
preys, herons, egrets, ibises and
limpkins either feed or live at Sunny-
hill Farm. Bald eagles and wood
storks, both listed as endangered
species, also have been sighted.
In addition to waterfowl, playful river
otters, mischievous raccoons, bob-
cats, black bear and the American
alligator call Sunnyhill Farm "home". Boat-tailed grackles find a steady
perch on sawgrass.

What is SWIM?

Sunnyhill Farm is open to the
public by appointment only. Call
Dave Walker at (904) 821-1489 to
schedule a visit or for more
information about restoring the
Oklawaha River.

SWIM stands for the Surface
Water Improvement and Manage-
ment Act passed by the Florida
Legislature and signed into law by
Gov. Bob Martinez in 1987. It
provides for the cleanup, restoration
and protection of Florida's vital
water resources.
In passing the SWIM bill, the
Legislature noted that pollution has
jeopardized some functions of many
of Florida's important water bodies,
such as the Oklawaha River.
Through the SWIM Act, the Legis-
lature directed the state's five water

management districts to develop
priority lists of water bodies needing
attention. The Legislature pledged to
provide 80% of the funding needed
with each district paying 20% of the
cleanup costs.
The Legislature appropriated
$15 million each year in 1987, 1988
and 1989. Only $8.3 million was
appropriated in1990, leaving a short-
fall of more than $6 million for SWIM
projects in the SJRWMD.
This shortfall has resulted in the
elimination or postponement of
many SWIM projects.



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