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.