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Immokalee Flood Protection to Be Enhanced by SFWMD-Collier Partnership

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board approved a partnership with Collier County Thursday to improve flood protection for the Immokalee area by clearing the State Road 29 Canal of trees and debris.
 
"This canal, which acts as a major outflow to drain neighborhoods and businesses around Immokalee, has been overrun by vegetation and experienced debris obstructions at times that have impeded its water flow," said SFWMD Governing Board member and Big Cypress Basin (BCB) Board Chairman Rick Barber in a written statement. "While not a District-owned canal, flood protection for our residents is SFWMD's primary mission, so this Governing Board felt it necessary to partner with Collier County to make sure these residents get improved controls over floodwaters."
 
The canal was maintained by Collier County and the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) for decades. Recently, it was discovered DOT technically did not have right of entry to maintain the canal. As a result, this led to a lapse in maintenance and the canal being compromised by vegetation and debris.
  
It was imperative that something be done because the canal acts as one of the major outflows of stormwater from Immokalee. Blocked canals can pose an increased risk of flooding, especially after storms.
  
Collier County and the BCB will jointly fund the clearing and maintenance of the canal. Collier County has been working with private landowners to get the necessary right-of-way permits to access the canal for maintenance work. The BCB Board budgeted approximately $62,500 per year for the next five years from ad valorem funds for local government projects to help clear the canal and keep its water flowing.
 
In early April, SFWMD will also start another unrelated canal clearing and maintenance project in the BCB, removing trees from a 1-mile section of the Golden Gate Main Canal to ensure flood protection for homes in western Collier County.

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