DEP AUTHORIZES CONSTRUCTION OF ADDITIONAL PROJECT TO FURTHER EVERGLADES RESTORATION

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 26, 2016

CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us

DEP AUTHORIZES CONSTRUCTION OF ADDITIONAL PROJECT TO FURTHER EVERGLADES RESTORATION

~Lake Hicpochee project to restore historic water flows and improve water quality 
for Caloosahatchee River~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has authorized the South Florida Water Management District to begin construction of the Lake Hicpochee Hydrologic Enhancement Project, which will help restore the lake’s historic water flows as well as improve the quality of water entering the Caloosahatchee River. This project is part of the Florida’s Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Plan, which promotes a watershed approach to protecting Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries.

"The department is pleased to advance this critical project to restore Lake Hicpochee and protect the Caloosahatchee Estuary," said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystem restoration. "This project will reduce nutrients and improve hydrology to benefit this important Southwest Florida ecosystem."

Located southwest of Lake Okeechobee, the project site will cover approximately 720 acres and is adjacent to the north levee of the C-43 Canal of the Caloosahatchee River. Work by local interests began in the 1800s to connect the Caloosahatchee River (C-43 Canal) to Lake Okeechobee, bisecting Lake Hicpochee into north and south portions and altering the lake’s ecology and hydrology. This project will help restore the historic lake bed and wetlands.

"Improving hydrology at Lake Hicpochee is an important part of the regional effort to improve water quality and protect the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary," said SFWMD Governing Board Member Mitch Hutchcraft. "The project is also a priority for residents on the Southwest Coast, and DEP’s action allows us to move forward on this beneficial effort."

Project construction will include a 670-acre flow equalization basin (FEB) that can store 1,280 acre-feet of water and a 6,500-foot spreader canal along the north boundary of Lake Hicpochee in eastern Glades County. The FEB will capture and store C-19 stormwater flows before passing it through wetland marshes, resulting in improved water quality prior to its release to the Caloosahatchee River. Construction is scheduled to occur from September 2016 to November 2017.

The 2016-17 Florida First budget approved by the Legislature and Governor Rick Scott provides $16.9 million from the Amendment 1 Land Acquisition Trust Fund for an additional 2,454 acres that will provide additional water storage for the project. The Department of Environmental Protection has previously funded more than $1.2 million for land acquisition and over $500,000 for engineering design of this project.