Levee to nowhere
An unofficial guide to the L-28

The L-28 isn’t your normal levee.

It’s in the middle of nowhere …

Animated map showing chronology of when the infrastructure was built

With swamp as far as the eye can see on both sides.

The original plan, back in the 1960s when it was built, was to convey water on the righthand side (i.e. east) of the levee and convey land for everything on the lefthand side of the levee (i.e west), clear to Naples. Or in other words, everything to the west was slated and subdivided for development.

That plan fizzled when The Jetport got nixed.

A vast area of the Big Cypress Swamp got conserved as a result.

A campfire ramble about the L-28

Complicating matters even more still …

The levee was never built as originally planned. It was only during construction that engineers discovered that water was flowing the “wrong way” from the Big Cypress into the Everglades. That meant the levee couldn’t be continuous. So they left a 7.5 gap.

On the east side of the S-344 looking upstream

Nor was it ever completed.

The Tieback was supposed to extend another 2-3 miles to the 10.5 ft topographic contour line. To the south, the levees (and canal) were supposed to extend another 20 miles in length. The L-28 is stuck in the no man’s land of never being completed as designed and its original design being obsolete.

One of 6 canal plugs installed in 1983 and refurbished in 2016, looking north (about 2 miles south of the S-344)

Minor modifications have been made to it over time.

For example, three structures (S-343s and S-344), three breaks in the Tieback and six plugs in the canal were added in 1983 following the sopping winter El Nino rains. Those same plugs were reconstructed in 2016 following a similar El NiƱo event, along with bringing in four emergency pumps that were used in record wet season of 2017 and most recently the deluge from Eta. Water managers have their sights on the L-28 as a part of an Everglades Restoration Plan. That could result in more changes to a levee that some say never should have been built.

Talking water management with tribal, Army Corps. the sportsman community and National Park Service, somewhere on the west side of the L-28 levee. Thank you Mike E for organizing the trip.

The ultimately irony to the L-28 is this:

  • Just years after it was built it became obsolete.
  • Fifty years later, other than a few minor tweaks, it’s never been changed.

On a buggy, heading back to the L-28

Yet somewhere along the way it became the status quo.

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Jeff Dafoe
Jeff Dafoe
1 year ago

Would love to see an article on what the ERP proposes as changes to the L-28. Also, knowing zero about hydrology other than what I’ve read here across many years, would also like to hear why it can’t just be backfilled. PS – I really like the new site!

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