June 8, 2007

The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board recently approved plans to move forward on a restoration project with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to improve water quality in the Palm River.

Palm River is located near the Tampa Bypass Canal in central Hillsborough County. The canal stretches from north of Tampa where the Hillsborough River crosses I-75 to McKay Bay. During the canal’s construction in the 1960s, an underwater berm was also constructed under the U.S. 41 bridge.

This project will determine if it is feasible to remove the berm. If so, the berm will be removed to increase circulation and flushing of the river. The project will also evaluate other publicly owned land within the watershed for restoration, including 40 acres of wetlands and uplands habitat on three sites owned by the District.

The project is budgeted for $750,000 with the District and FDOT equally sharing the costs. The District’s funding is being divided among the Hillsborough River Basin Board and a state appropriation.

The project is expected to be complete by December 2009.

The District recently completed another project to improve water quality in the Palm River.

The river was dredged during construction of the canal to accommodate water flowing from the canal and into McKay Bay. Portions of the riverbanks began to erode so the county and the District installed rip rap and marine plants in those areas to address the problem. Rip rap is rock material used to prevent erosion. Other portions of the river have eroded since then. The eroded material from the river flows into McKay Bay and eventually deposits in Tampa Bay, impacting water quality.

The District and Hillsborough County addressed these erosion issues by installing approximately 600 feet of rip rap on the south bank of the Palm River between Maydell Drive and Winham Street. This project was completed in January 2007.

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