Water Quality Restoration Floats South Florida Farmland Purchase

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The South Florida Water Management District approved the $26 million acquisition from Palm Beach County of a key piece of property that will help provide vital freshwater flows to the Loxahatchee River. Located on 1,800 acres west of the Beeline Highway, the Mecca Farms parcel will become a shallow-water storage area capable of sending water directly to the riverine ecosystem of mangroves, cypress trees, oysters, and seagrasses.

Significant components of the plan include:

  • A $26 million investment from the Save Our Everglades Trust Fund for the District to purchase the property
  • Conveyance of 150 acres of the property to the Florida Fish and Wildlife 
  • Conservation Commission (FWC) for an Olympic-quality, state-owned shooting range to provide a public recreation benefit 
  • An option for the County to repurchase approximately 98.56 acres as needed for a new extension alignment of Seminole-Pratt & Whitney Road 

Project Detail And Ecological Benefits

Following a closing on the property, the District will begin work to design and construct a system of pump stations to move water onto the site and earthen embankments capable of holding water up to four feet deep, providing 7,200 acre-feet of storage.

Control structures will allow for the gravity flow of water east through the C-18 Canal and into the Northwest Fork of the river.

This flow will provide significant environmental benefits, including:

  • Supplementing water flow to the river during the dry season to meet its minimum flows and levels, which are defined as the minimum water levels and/or flows required to prevent significant harm to the water resources. 
  • Helping to prevent saltwater intrusion in the lower reaches of the Loxahatchee. This keeps mangroves from encroaching on the cypress slough portion of the river. 
  • Repurposing the L-8 Reservoir, originally slated to provide water for the Loxahatchee, to serve as a key component of the Governor’s Restoration Strategies plan to improve water quality in the Everglades.