St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District
St. Johns River Water Management District - www.sjrwmd.com

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Water bodies, watersheds and storm water

Upper St. Johns River Restoration Initiative

Hector Herrera

Initiative Leader
Hector Herrera

Ann Benedetti

Contact
Ann Benedetti
321-676-6606
abenedetti@​sjrwmd.com

The Upper St. Johns River Basin has experienced many challenges over the years, including overdrainage of soils, decreases in water quality and expansion of native and exotic plant species.

Over the past 30 years, many of these issues have been addressed by the Upper St. Johns River Basin Project, a partnership between the St. Johns River Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project has achieved significant flood control and water quality benefits, wildlife habitat improvements.

The establishment of drainage canals and levees in the upper basin to promote and protect agricultural areas has resulted in overdrainage of some marshes, which has caused excessive soil oxidation and poor water quality when these areas reflood and nutrients are released into the water. The overdrainage also has contributed to an expansion of some native shrub species, such as Carolina willow and wax myrtle; and provided habitat for exotic species, such as paragrass and Old World climbing fern, leading to a loss of native biodiversity.

Construction of the Fellsmere Water Management Area includes levees and a parking area.

Construction of the Fellsmere Water Management Area includes levees and a parking area.

In the fall of 2013, the district launched the Upper St. Johns River Restoration Initiative to formalize the continued development and implement­ation of integrated strategies and protocols that optimize flood control, protect and enhance natural ecosystems, improve water quality and provide for water supply for the upper St. Johns River. The work plan for this initiative extends to 2017 and focuses on several objectives.

One major milestone will be completing construction of the Fellsmere Water Management Area (FWMA). This project will provide water quality benefits, increased water storage and fewer — if any — discharges of floodwater through Canal‑54 to the Indian River Lagoon. The FWMA also will provide additional habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife.

Another component of the Initiative is data collection, analysis and scientific research to support ecosystem restoration and enhancement in the upper St. Johns River.

As part of the data collection and analysis, some of the research will focus on discovering how water and land management strategies affect the native plant communities of the Upper St. Johns River Basin. Work also will include ecological and engineering investigations to determine the steps needed to restore and enhance the hydrology of the overdrained wetlands in the St. Johns Marsh Conservation Area.

The district works cooperatively with many partners in the upper basin, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

Some interagency tasks will include:

  • Working with USACE to incorporate revisions to flood control schedules
  • Coordinating with DEP and EPA on total maximum daily loads (TMDLs)
  • Creating fish and wildlife habitat in cooperation with USFWS and FWC
  • Exploring partnerships with SFWMD, local governments and other public and private stakeholders to facilitate the connection of SFWMD’s Canal 25 basin to the upper St. Johns River
Three Forks Marsh Conservation Area helps protect water resources and provides a home for wildlife.

Three Forks Marsh Conservation Area helps protect water resources and provides a home for wildlife.

Marshes and man-made reservoirs in the Upper St. Johns River Basin provide peaceful places to fish and enjoy other recreation.

Marshes and man-made reservoirs in the Upper St. Johns River Basin provide peaceful places to fish and enjoy other recreation.

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St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177
(800) 725-5922