SFWMD Completes Restoration of Historic Loxahatchee River Dams
May 3, 2018
Jupiter, FL – Today the South Florida Water Management District's (SFWMD) Water Resources Analysis Coalition received a detailed presentation about the recently completed restoration of two historic dams on the Loxahatchee River in northern Palm Beach County.
The dams, first built in the 1930s by local families, control and regulate upstream flow stages of the Northwest Fork of the river,the state's first designated "wild and scenic" river. The dams also maintain the hydrology of the riverine floodplain ecosystem. Modeling has shown that without the two dams in place, the upstream water levels would be about 1.5 feet lower, draining the freshwater swamp and encouraging saltwater intrusion.
"One of SFWMD's primary missions is the protection of natural systems and these dam renovations are crucial to ensuring the future of the Loxahatchee River," said Governing Board Vice Chair Melanie Peterson, a Palm Beach County resident and former member of the Loxahatchee River Management Coordinating Council. "These dams are not only living parts of Palm Beach County's history, but they are essential to protecting the cypress swamp floodplain that makes the Loxahatchee so unique."
In February of 2017, the SFWMD Governing Board approved $2.5 million worth of restoration work to the two historic dams. Restoration work began in March 2017 and was completed in January, approximately six months ahead of schedule. The work was originally not expected to be completed until July 2018 but the contractor worked through last summer's wet season to speed up the completion and bring the restoration benefits to Palm Beach County residents sooner.
The repairs, which came after extensive public input and thorough review, minimize any impact to the river's natural resources and preserve the historical integrity of the dams. Areas of the dam that have decayed were repaired and soil under and around the dams were stabilized to reduce seepage.
See how the restoration of two historic dams along the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter benefits the ecosystem of this federally designated "Wild and Scenic River" and improves public recreation access for kayaking, fishing and more.