JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District has awarded one of the four remaining construction contracts for the Kissimmee River Restoration project, moving this large-scale Everglades restoration project one step closer to completion.
The $4.65 million MacArthur Ditch Backfill construction contract was awarded to Herve Cody Contractor from Robbinsville, North Carolina on Jan. 15. The contract involves backfilling the 18,000 foot-long MacArthur Ditch, located northwest of the S-65C lock and spillway in the Kissimmee River Basin, to eliminate the channel’s ability to convey water. The ditch will be backfilled to natural grade in order to prevent water flow from bypassing the historic Kissimmee River, and to restore the natural sheet flow in this area of the floodplain.
“Kissimmee River restoration is moving forward,” said Col. Alan Dodd, Jacksonville District Commander. “We have made significant progress on this project to date. Awarding these final contracts will continue to drive the ecological success in the Kissimmee River Basin.”
In addition to the ecological benefits provided by the project, restoration of the historic river will slow the movement of water and increase the time it takes for it to get from Lake Kissimmee to Lake Okeechobee, especially when the river is within its banks. To date, the Corps has completed 25 construction contracts as part of the Kissimmee River Restoration project and two contracts are currently ongoing. With the award of the MacArthur Ditch Backfill contract, only three construction contracts remain for the project.
The Kissimmee River Restoration project is a congressionally authorized undertaking sponsored by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District, the non-federal sponsor. The project encompasses the removal of two water control structures, filling approximately 22 miles of canal, and restoring over 40 square miles of the river channel and floodplain ecosystem, including approximately 27,000 acres of wetlands.
In the areas that have already been restored, comprehensive monitoring has documented substantial improvements in the river and its floodplain, making the project a model for large-scale ecosystem restoration efforts. Aquatic wading bird and duck populations in the restored river and floodplain region have soared, shorebird species have returned, organic deposits on the river bottom have decreased by 71 percent, and reestablished sand bars provide new habitat for native species.
Additional information on the Kissimmee River Restoration project available at: http://bit.ly/KissimmeeRiverRestorationProject
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