This multi-year project is evaluating accumulated sediments in the river and identifying where future removal of sediments will benefit the river’s ecosystem.
Sedimentation is an environmental problem in the Weeki Wachee River and is identified as one of the priority issues in the Weeki Wachee River Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Plan. Sedimentation alters the river channel structure and can smother beneficial submerged aquatic vegetation and other habitats. Despite most sources of erosion being addressed in the past, this sediment continues to work its way downstream with widening sand bars and increasingly shallow areas in the lower river as signs of continued sedimentation.
The District received funding from the state’s General Appropriations Act for the evaluation, design and permitting of the project, which is ongoing. The District has hired a consultant to identify the priority areas for sediment removal, prepare a removal and restoration plan and process permits. The final construction plans will be done by the end of 2019.
Based on the construction plans, additional state funding will be requested in the 2020 legislative session. Pending award of the funding, a contractor will be selected through a competitive bidding process. The restoration project includes sediment removal, which is also known as dredging, and is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2021. This webpage will be updated as more details become available, including information about the funding, timing and process for the restoration.
The project has been partially funded, and is anticipated to be fully funded, by the State of Florida. The Southwest Florida Water Management District is the lead agency implementing the project and is working to develop the project with input from Hernando County, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, including the Florida State Parks.