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SFWMD Board Approves $2.5 Million Renovation of Historic Loxahatchee Dams

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board today approved a $2.5 million contract to restore two historic dams on the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, Florida's first wild and scenic river.

The Lainhart Dam

"The Loxahatchee River is part of the experience for so many of us who grew up in Palm Beach County and part of what makes living in South Florida so great," said Governing Board Member Melanie Peterson, a lifelong Palm Beach County resident. "In addition to being part of the history of this wild and scenic river, these dams play a crucial role in protecting the cypress swamp floodplain that makes the Loxahatchee River so unique."

The dams, first built in the 1930s by local families and last renovated in 1986, control and regulate upstream flow stages of the Northwest Fork of the river and maintain the hydrology of the riverine floodplain ecosystem. Modeling has shown that without the two dams in place, the upstream water levels would be about 1.5 feet lower, draining the freshwater swamp and allowing saltwater intrusion.
According to a District statement, the repairs, which came after extensive public input and thorough review, were designed to minimize any impact to the river's natural resources and historical integrity of the dams. Areas of the dam that have decayed or where the water is no longer being held back will be repaired and stabilized, and soil under and around the dams will be stabilized to reduce seepage.
Portage areas where canoers and kayakers carry their vessels over the two dams will also be refurbished to improve access. The portages will remain open to the public throughout construction. The repairs are expected to begin in the next few months and be completed by July 2018.

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