JACKSONVILLE -- The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) Project Delivery Team (PDT) will meet Monday, March 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
LOWRP will provide water storage north of Lake O.
The original plan for LOWRP included a wetland attenuation feature (WAF), 80 aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells and two wetland restoration areas. The 13,000 acre WAF would have held water up to 4-feet high in the wet season, with water receding with the level of Lake Okeechobee in the dry season, and would have cost nearly $1 billion. Due to concerns about cost and objections from landowners, Glades County officials and the Seminole Tribe, the WAF was dropped from the plan in 2021.
The revised plan includes restoration of two wetlands near the Kissimmee River. The Kissimmee River Center wetland will cover about 1,200 acres. Currently about 11% of the land is in public ownership. The Paradise Run wetland will cover about 4,700 acres. Currently about 59% of the land is in public ownership.
The revised plan also reduces the number of ASRs from 80 to 55. This removes from the plan the 25 ASRs which would have been co-located with the WAF. The remaining 55 ASR wells will have the capacity to store 308,000 acre feet of water per year. That is about 86 billion gallons of water, the equivalent to about 7 inches on Lake Okeechobee. Before water is pumped into ASR wells, it will be cleaned to drinking water standards, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The PDT meeting will be online at https://usace1.webex.com/meet/earl.t.gysan
Only PDT members may participate in the meeting discussion, but members of the public may attend the online meeting.
The Draft Revised Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement (PIR/EIS) regarding the revised recommended LOWRP plan are online at www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOWRP. This LOWRP PDT meeting will update the PDT and stakeholders on the changes to the LOWRP plan since August 2020, which are detailed in the draft revised PIR/EIS.
The revised plan includes wetland restorations and aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells for storage.
The Paradise Run and Kissimmee River-Center Wetlands restoration will cost an estimated $126,706,000 including the cost of buying land currently in private ownership.
The original estimate for 80 ASRs was about $400 million.
The Wetland Attenuation Feature, which has been dropped from the plan, would have cost around $1 billion.