C&SF Project

Ghosts of Canals Never Built

Sometimes the best part of a plan are the features that get left out.

The highlighted areas on the map show major water works of the Central & South Florida (C&SFL) Project that got left behind on the drawing room floor. That’s a good thing. The result is undisturbed wetland where there would have been canals, levees, and water control structures instead.

  • Who needs a pump station (S-L47) when Mullet Slough is perfectly capable of free flowing it into Water Conservation Area 3 all by itself?
  • And who needs a S-329 and S-328 structures Lostmans, Middle, East, and Shark River Slough can handle the water instead?

The truth about plans is that they are rarely built as originally spec’ed out, especially when the time horizon to complete them is 25 years out (the C&SFL Project ran from 1948 to 1975), nor do they work out exactly as planned, plus the inevitable outfall of dealing with unintended consequences.

Next thing you know a new plan is in the works to fix it all …

This time for good.

Dike breach remembered

Wednesday marked the 81st anniversary of the Okeechobee Hurricane (1928) and tragic dike collapse that followed. (see NOAA memorial)

That seems like a long time ago, but to the children who survived it, and carried the horror and loss of it with them their entire lives, it’s a powerful reminder that time does not heal old wounds.

We need to remind ourselves that we will never forget.

Towards that ends, a memorial service for the fateful day and the people involved was held in Martin County. (see article).

The catastrophe spurred Florida to better fortify the banks of the Lake.

In came the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Seven years later it was completed:

Hoover Dike.

But it wasn’t until the 1960s that the perimeter levee was built to fully encircle the lake, as part of the 25-year water re-engineering project called the Central and South Florida Project.

We take water projects for granted,

There’s no better example than the tragic breach of the levee barrier surrounding New Orleans during the storm-swollen seas of Hurricane Katrina (2005).

That spurred a second look at the great earthen wall surrounding the Big Lake.

Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is back in action on Hoover Dike, this time overseeing installation of a seepage barrier – called a “cutoff wall” – down its spine for much of its 143-mile length, plus other re-engineering and contingency plan actions.

We can’t repair history (sadly, that’s water under the bridge),

But we can strengthen a levee so that history doesn’t repeat itself:

And of course – Never forget!