Title: Restoring the Ocklawaha River Basin and Floodplain
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00001474/00001
 Material Information
Title: Restoring the Ocklawaha River Basin and Floodplain
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: SJRWMD
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Restoring the Ocklawaha River Basin and Floodplain
General Note: Box 8, Folder 5 ( Vail Conference, 1995 - 1995 ), Item 88
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00001474
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


basin ant floodplain

~-.. s



Looking Back

Before the taming of the
upper Ocklawaha, the slug-
gish river ranged from 30 to
500 feet in width and had an
average depth of three feet.
To improve navigation, channel
obstructions were cleared by removing
snags, overhanging trees and floating
islands of vegetation. These floating
islands were formed when rising water
levels caused sawgrass and water lilies
on the bank to break off and drift into
the channel, hindering passage where
they caught in a river bend.
Local farming interests pressed for
draining the fertile lands adjacent to
the river and finally won congressional
support in 1917. As a result, federal
engineers constructed a lock and dam
at M ss Bluff and abandoned the river
chajp I from Starkes Ferry to Moss
B Uby diverting the flow into a canal.
created roi igi stem that
ts today. TIe U.S. Army Corps of
E eeA er d the canals
an ja te O trthe Four
Riv a Prol e n the Os.
O i k oc throughout the
Ockl hai kes, including
the u ti popka-
B fta ock and dam,
out 20,000
ke arshes, the
al be es Dora and
s,1 he B ck and Dam on a
s Creek between
riffin, and the Yale
a le e system that allowed
Ih nir f( 000 acres of the

Benefits and Costs

of Changes

The primary benefit from most of
these projects was flood control. In
addition, the water control structures
permitted engineers to stabilize lake
levels. That way, the lakes could be
operated within a narrow range to
store water in case of drought and
also allow year-round navigation. And
by draining the Ocklawaha's marshes,
more than 30,000 acres of productive
muck farm land was established in
Lake, Marion and Orange counties.
Unfortunately, these same factors
are key reasons why the water in the
Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes and river
has been polluted during the last 40
years. The dams ha kept water
levels in the lakesj m naturally
rising and falling l, he normal
flushing of nutrie r sediments
and the growth of h Ithy lake ecosys-
tems. Because the ck farms were
built on drained m es, large
amounts of pollut ter were
pumped into the d river to
keep the land d o grow
crops. In addi Lbanization
and grow ed by turn-
ing m. the lakes
nt of urban
leakage into the
f these impacts
n water quality
d wildlife habitat.


Restoration Efforts

Because of these problems, the
restoration of the upper Ocklawaha
River basin is a priority for the
St. Johns River Water Management
District. The District's Surface Water
Improvement and Management
(SWIM) program has begun a healing
of the riter and its floodplain
The centerpiece ot the program has
beer the purchase of large tracts o:
the drained rrmars hes. which v 1ilI be
used t..:. restore fish and wildlhie habi-
tat and improve water quail[ These
sites include areas on lakes Apopka
and Harris [he Erreralds area on Lake
Griliri Surinyhill Farm berteen
Starkes Ferrn and Moss Bluft and
Ocklawaha Farms berteen Moss Bluff
and the Silver Rier
On Lake Apopka the District has
begun using marshes to filter sedi-
ments and nutrients fr,:- m water. .Vhi
the project is finished all Lt-.i:&"'
going downstream to rtho', EW
Chain will be filtered thro htf f,
restored march Because LikteApt,~i 'a
is the main headwater for the -sten-,
and the most polluted large lake in
da, cleaning its i water is also
S cited to. improve p hkes Beauclair
and EustiS.
e District is restoring large areas
e Emeralda Marsh adc ntl tuo
e Grilfin A portion -:t 1 ea is
ing evaluated for use as a ..r
arsh to reimoe nutrients f the
I l ake In addition fields rece iflood-
ed haxe also been stocked ort
' -wh and will ultimately, pr,.% or-
tidltishery habitat as %%ell I w

"Ing ducks P
a attrrcte?

comply ,
channel an
about six-and-a-half ni
During the next phase ol %v
cooperation with the Corps O ,

Engineers), mucky sediments in the
historic channel will be cleaned out
and interior ditches and levees
removed to restore the sheet flow of
water to the site. Scientists will re-
establish a functioning system by
diverting some of the flow from the
channelized Ocklawaha River back into
Sunnyhill Farm. Ultimately, water
passing through the restoration area
will rejoirl the canal below the Moss
Blutl Dam
Until this occurs Interim water le\el
management on the old farm fields
continues to, encourage the growth of
wetland habitat Increasing wildlife use
hints at the long-term potential ol this
project E entruall, the rest..:.red wet-
lands at Sunnyhill Farm will truly be of
regio rina significance
Further dowrnstream lies Ocklawaha
Farms a 4,100-acre property, where
similar restoraut n work v% ill take place

.:o a.sess water levels in the
Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes B,, Irmit-
Ing the rise and Lall of v .[er lvels the
current schedules (designated season-
,al water levels for the lakefl. devel-
oped during the 1051-,. have reduced
aquatic habitat and rray haie con-
tributed to lower ar aer ual[ity New. -.. "
schedules being developed alBit. 1e -:
the health :of the lakes will meet 10 'i.
ronmental tfloic d contr:i and ria a- '
[ion criteria Once alterriaties ..
formed tor lakes Griffin Eustis, rri,-"-
Be-uclair Dora and Apopka .-
L blic workshops will be ed (
er citizen Input on re e
s. Upon c-

Joe E. Hill, Fruitland Park
I I1- 3 Governing Board Chairman
hns River Water Managemeit Disrict
i _a_ ice_ -.dama... ....


About SWIM
As a participant in restoring and protecting this vital river system, your active
support of this Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) program is
key to its success. Funding is limited across the state. By working together, we
can improve water quality and restore the wetland habitat, recreational values
and beauty of the historic Ocklawaha River system.
For more information on the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin SWIM program, or
to arrange for informational displays, speakers or tours of the restoration sites,
contact the District's Sunnyhill Farm field office at (904) 821-1489 or the SWIM
Administration office at (904) 329-4323.

Some day this Photo Illustrations by Steve Nesbitt, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission
Photographs by Dave Walker, SJRWMD
will all be yours This brochure was produced with the assistance of the St. Johns River Water Management District's
Division of Public Information to inform the public about
limpkin and fledgling the District's Upper Ocklawaha River Basin SWIM program.
at Sunnyhill farm Printed on recycled paper

St. Johns River Water
Management District
Upper Ocklawaha River
Basin SWIM Program
P.O. Box 1429
Palatka, Florida 32178-1429


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