Weeki Wachee Channel Restoration Project

Project Overview

A prior phase of the project evaluated accumulated sediments in the river and identified where removal of sediments will benefit the river's ecosystem. The current phase is to remove accumulated sediments from those targeted areas of the river.

Status Update

In February 2022, the contractor began work on the site where the dredged material from the river is being processed. Work along Shoal Line Boulevard installed pipes to bring the dredged sediment and water to and from the processing area. The dredge was launched in the water June 2, and sediment removal has begun. The public is advised to use caution around the contractor's work area. A yellow turbidity curtain that protects water quality will be used in the river surrounding the dredge. Manatee protection measures will be put in place and remain for the project duration. The in-water work is expected to be complete by early November 2022, and the river will remain navigable during the project. 

Background

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.

Project Details

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) received funding from the state’s General Appropriations Act for the evaluation, design and permitting of the project, which was completed in late 2019.

Additional state funding was requested and approved in the 2020 legislative session for project implementation. A contractor has been hired through a competitive bid process to complete the restoration project using the state funding and additional District funding. The contractor will dredge in the lower river to re-establish historic river depths where accumulated sediments have covered natural habitats.

Project Partners

The project is funded by the State of Florida and the District. The District is the lead agency implementing the project and is working with input from Hernando County, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.