Title: Upper St. John's River Basin Project
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00001417/00001
 Material Information
Title: Upper St. John's River Basin Project
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: SJRWMD
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Upper St. John's River Basin Project
General Note: Box 8, Folder 5 ( Vail Conference, 1995 - 1995 ), Item 31
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00001417
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


restoration heps heal river's headaterPACT SHEET

Restoration helps heal river's headwater marshes

A century ago, the vast marshes of central and
south Florida were drained in the name of progress.
Cities, towns, farms and citrus groves sprang up
where wetlands had formed the headwaters of two
major river systems in Florida-the St. Johns River
flowing north, and the Kissimmee-Okeechobee chain
flowing south to the Everglades.
Restoration efforts to repair the unintended effects
to the environment have begun. Planning is underway
to restore the Kissimmee River-Lake Okeechobee-
Everglades system.
Meanwhile, a $165 million restoration of the
St. Johns Rivers headwaters and marshes is more
than half complete. The St. Johns River Water Man-
agement District, in partnership with the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, is using one of the methods pro-
posed by South Florida water managers to rescue the
Everglades--the creation of marshy reservoirs to hold
water and filter out pollutants.
The Upper St. Johns River Basin Project is an
ambitious flood control and river restoration effort that
will more than double the functional wetlands in the
rivers headwaters region. When finished in 1997, the
project will have restored more than 125,000 acres of
marshlands to hold water for fish and wildlife and to
feed the river in dry seasons.
A 100-mile system of levees, spillways, weirs and
culverts will divert polluted agricultural discharge into
large reservoirs for reuse and will hold flood
waters in the marshes for gradual release to
the river.
The project will serve as a national model of
floodplain management, according to Maurice
Sterling, assistant director of engineering for
the water management district, who heads the
Upper St. Johns Project.
Located in east-central Florida, the project
stretches north from the Florida Turnpike for
85 miles through Indian River and Brevard
counties. A central feature of the project is
Blue Cypress Lake and its surrounding marsh-
es, now one of the top sport fisheries in the
Much of the project area consists of old
floodplain, almost two-thirds of which was
diked off and drained in the early 1900s for

agricultural development of the rich peat soils.
After a series of floods in the 1940s, Congress created
a flood control project for the 2,000-square mile basin.
Dikes and canals were built to funnel water toward the
Indian River Lagoon. Environmental concerns stopped
the project in the early 1970s.
The St. Johns River Water Management District took
over the project area in 1977 and hammered out a plan
to revitalize the river's flow by restoring drained marsh-
lands, plugging canals and building reservoirs. As part of
the plan, several water control structures will allow water
to "sheet flow" unimpeded through the river's marshes.
Farm drainage will go into reservoirs instead of the
river or the marsh, and farmers will reuse the drainage
water for needed irrigation.
There are major benefits to returning the headwater
marshes the rivers liquid heart and kidneys to the
upper St. Johns basin. The project will:
Reduce damage from floods
Improve water quality
Curtail freshwater flows to the Indian River Lagoon
Restore fish and wildlife habitat
Increase public recreational opportunities
Water managers acknowledge that at best, their
efforts are corrective surgery to restore the river to
functional not prime conditions. But the project will
help balance the special needs of the river, the people
and creatures who depend on it for many years to come.

Chronology of the
Upper St. Johns Project

Congress authorizes flood control
works in the upper St. Johns River
Initial project design completed by
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Design includes large upland
reservoirs to store water and canals
to move flood waters to the Indian
River Lagoon.
Construction begins.
Environmental impact study begins.
Construction halted while additional
environmental asses ents are
Project deemed unacceptable for
environmental reasons.
Project sponsorship transferred to
SJRWMD; major replanning begins.
Basic project design concept adopted
by SJRWMD favors replacing flood
storage in the the historic river basin.
Corps of Engineers determines
project design is economically feasible
and warrants federal participation.
Current project design approved
based on "semi-structural" water
management concept.
Construction begins.
Several major water control structures
and project levees completed; major
parts of project now operational.

The St. Johns River Water
Management District is responsible
for protecting and enhancing Florida's
vital water resources in northeast
and east-central Florida. For more
information about the Upper St. Johns
River Project, call Maurice Sterling
at (904) 329-4320.

Upper St. Johns Project Vital Statistics

Location: The project area is situated in east central Florida just southwest
of Melbourne in Brevard, Indian River and Osceola counties.

Size: The upper St. Johns River basin drains a watershed of some 2,000
square miles, an area larger than the state of Delaware. The immediate
project area includes more than 125,000 acres of land more than 195
square miles.

Design concept: The project is "semi-structural" in design and function. It
relies more on restored wetlands to hold and release flood waters, rather
than dams, which are common with more traditional water projects. Under
maximum storm conditions, the project will hold one half-million acre-feet
of water enough water to cover an 85-square-mile area 10 feet deep.
Agricultural drainage will be separated from existing marshes to improve
water quality in the river. Water levels throughout the project areas will be
managed to simulate natural marsh conditions which will improve fish and
wildlife habitat.

Project costs: Costs for this $165 million project are being shared between
the SJRWMD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. All construction
costs are paid by the federal government. The SJRWMD is responsible for
acquiring lands needed to build and operate the project. Land costs account
for almost $100 million and are funded primarily through property taxes
levied by the District and Florida's Save Our Rivers trust fund. Recreation
development costs are shared equally between the Corps of Engineers and
the District.

Benefits: The Upper St. Johns River Basin Project will:
Reduce damages from floods
Improve water quality
Curtail freshwater flows to the Indian River Lagoon
Restore fish and wildlife habitat
Increase public recreational opportunities

Recreational Uses: Much of the project area is operated as a Type II
Wildlife Management Area in cooperation with the Florida Game and Fresh
Water Fish Commission. The project will also support a broad range of
active and passive recreational activities including fishing, hunting, boating,
nature study, hiking and camping. An outstanding recreational feature
of the project is the 20,000-acre Ft. Drum Marsh Conservation Area in
southwest Indian River County.

The endangered Everglades Kite, which has
relocated to the upper St. Johns River basin.
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