BOX 5-3

Documented Environmental Benefits of the Kissimmee River Restoration Project

From an environmental quality perspective, the primary goal of the Kissimmee River Restoration Project is to reconstruct the geomorphology of the river and reestablish its prechannelization hydrologic regime. The anticipated result is the reestablishment of the ecological integrity of the river-floodplain system, which is defined as “the capability of supporting and maintaining a balanced, integrated, adaptive community having species composition, diversity, and functional organization comparable to that of the natural habitat of the region” (Karr and Dudley, 1981). Monitoring and evaluation since the completion of Phase I provide clear indications of the benefits of the restoration effort (Williams et al., 2005):

  • Maintenance of continuous flow for over 3 years in the reconnected river channel;

  • Reduction in the quantity and distribution of organic/marl deposition on the river channel bed;

  • Increase in the number of river bends with active formation of sand point bars;

  • Increase in dissolved oxygen from 1.2 to 3.3 parts per million (ppm) during the wet season and 3.3 to 6.1 ppm in the dry season;

  • Reduction in the mean width of the littoral vegetation beds in reconnected river channels;

  • Shift in structure of littoral plant communities from slight dominance by floating/mat-forming species to heavy dominance by emergent species;

  • Colonization of wetland vegetation of the filled C-38 and degraded spoil mounds;

  • Colonization of mid-channel benthos by invertebrate species indicative of reestablished sand channel habitats;

  • Dominance of woody snag invertebrate communities by passive filter-feeding insects that require flowing water;

  • Increased mean density of wading birds, including the endangered wood stork, from about 16 birds per square mile to 52-62 birds per square mile;

  • Decline in abundance of the terrestrial cattle egret relative to aquatic wading birds on the floodplain; and

  • Establishment of a new bald eagle nesting territory adjacent to the area of Phase I.

Mod Waters and C-111

The Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park (Mod Waters) and C-111 projects provide a foundation for Decomp and also provide some initial ecological benefits: C-111 for Taylor Slough and Mod Waters for Northeast Shark River Slough (see also Box 2-2; Figure 2-7). The C-111 sheet flow enhancement and shallow groundwater preservation project is more modest in scope (Figure 5-6), and it seems to be progressing well. Mod

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