September 24, 2007

Who: Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) staff, Sen. Mike Bennett, Rep. Michael Grant, local elected officials, Department of Environmental Protection staff, Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center staff, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program staff

What: The District will host an event in the Charlotte Harbor watershed to celebrate 20 years since the Florida Legislature passed the Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Act. The event will begin with a presentation about the SWIM Program and a check presentation from Sen. Mike Bennett and Rep. Michael Grant to the District for $500,000. The presentation will be followed by a boat tour and an overview of the District’s seagrass mapping efforts in Charlotte Harbor.

When: Wednesday, October 17 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Where: The event will take place at the Watershed Resource Center at the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center in Charlotte County. The address is 10941 Burnt Store Road, Punta Gorda, FL 33955.

District Contact: Space is limited, please RSVP by October 5 to Karen Kobil,800-836-0797, ext. 2101 or cell 813-781-0809

Directions: I-75 south to Exit 161 (CR-768 West toward Punta Gorda). Merge onto Jones Loop Road, which turns into Burnt Store Road.

The Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Act

In 1987, the Florida Legislature created the SWIM Act to protect, restore and maintain Floridas highly threatened surface water bodies.

The Southwest Florida Water Management Districts (District) 10 priority water bodies include Tampa Bay, Rainbow River, Banana Lake, Crystal River/Kings Bay, Lake Panasoffkee, Charlotte Harbor, Lake Tarpon, Lake Thonotosassa, the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes and Sarasota Bay.

The SWIM Program has completed more than 200 habitat restoration and water quality improvement projects, translating to more than 3,000 acres of restored habitat.

The SWIM Program has received 39 environmental excellence awards since 1987.

SWIM recently received environmental excellence awards for the Lancaster Tract Habitat Restoration Project, Ft. DeSoto Park Recirculation and Ecological Enhancement Project, Kapok Wetland and Floodplain Restoration Project, and Gateway Tract Habitat Restoration Project.

Lake Hartridge Park at the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes

The Lake Hartridge stormwater treatment project is located on the shoreline of Lake Hartridge, which is one of the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes.

This project provides water quality and natural systems benefits through treatment of stormwater from a 175-acre basin and the creation of wetland habitat.

A total of eight completed stormwater treatment projects in the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes watershed have been completed to treat more than 2,300 combined acres.

Charlotte Harbor

Charlotte Harbor proper, covering 270 square miles, is Floridas second largest open water estuary and is considered one of the most productive estuarine systems on the west coast of Florida. It is has been declared an estuary of national significance through its inclusion in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys National Estuary Program.

Charlotte Harbor and its watershed, together covering more than 4,400 square miles, are home to more than 40 species of animals listed by the state as either endangered, threatened, or of special concern.

Since 1987, 12 coastal restoration projects and seven ecological studies for Charlotte Harbor have been completed for a total of approximately 771 acres of restored coastal habitats.

Cockroach Bay

The Cockroach Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project represents one of the largest, most complex coastal ecosystem restoration projects ever developed for the Tampa Bay estuarine ecosystem.

The Districts partnerships with 19 members of the Cockroach Bay Restoration Alliance, $1.6 million in grant funds and more than 2,250 volunteers have played an integral role in the success of this project.

To date, 425 acres of this 500-acre multiphase project have been restored. The last phase of 75 acres of estuarine wetlands currently is under design and is anticipated to be completed by 2008-2009. When complete, the project will have restored 282 acres of various estuarine/freshwater wetlands and 218 acres of coastal uplands.

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