Water quality monitoring benefits Loxahatchee River watershed

The South Florida Water Management District, together with the Loxahatchee River District and the Loxahatchee River Preservation Initiative, is funding an extensive biological and water quality monitoring program to measure the success of environmental restoration along the Loxahatchee River. The funding will support a $356,000 one-year contract for monitoring salinity and nutrient levels, and other indicators of environmental health throughout the Loxahatchee River watershed....

Jan 15th, 2008

• SFWMD partners with Loxahatchee River District, Preservation Initiative

WEST PALM BEACH, FL, Jan. 10, 2008 -- The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), together with the Loxahatchee River District and the Loxahatchee River Preservation Initiative, is funding an extensive biological and water quality monitoring program to measure the success of environmental restoration along the Loxahatchee River. The funding will support a $356,000 one-year contract for monitoring salinity and nutrient levels, seagrass growth, populations of oysters and macro-invertebrates and other indicators of environmental health throughout the Loxahatchee River watershed.

"Thanks to restoration efforts, the Loxahatchee River is experiencing a renewal, but it's one that can't be taken for granted," said South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Member Patrick Rooney. "The results of long-term environmental monitoring will help our scientists and water managers continue to guide improvements."

Under a contract approved by the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, the Loxahatchee River District will play a role in assessing the success of ongoing Loxahatchee River Preservation Initiative projects and will also evaluate the health of seagrasses and oysters in Palm Beach County. The Loxahatchee River District is a special district and wastewater utility with a mission to preserve and protect the Loxahatchee River.

The $356,000 contract includes a $276,000 contribution from the District, of which $178,000 is from the most recent Loxahatchee River Preservation Initiative legislative appropriation, and an $89,000 contribution from the Loxahatchee River District.

The Loxahatchee River Preservation Initiative consists of local, state and private partners dedicated to finding funding for projects to improve and protect the natural resources of the Loxahatchee watershed. Over the last five years, the group has been instrumental in directing more than $33 million toward water quality enhancement projects targeting the river, its tributaries and estuary. Work has included urban stormwater runoff improvements, restoration of natural areas and invasive species control.

The Loxahatchee River is the southernmost tributary of the Indian River Lagoon and includes the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River, the first nationally designated Wild and Scenic River in Florida. The historic watershed, which once covered more than 750 square miles, now spans approximately 277 square miles in southern Martin and northern Palm Beach counties, and is part of the historic Everglades.

Since 2000, Florida has invested close to $2 billion in the state-federal partnership to restore the Everglades. The District's budget this year dedicates $790 million for the restoration of the Everglades, including $480 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, nearly $200 million to benefit the Kissimmee, Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie watersheds and $111 million to further improve the quality of water entering the Everglades Protection Area. Investments in environmental restoration represent a full two-thirds of the District's FY2008 budget.

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state -- 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts.

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