Storm damage sets back river restoration; repairs estimated at $11 million

Article Posted on May 9, 2018

By: Katrina Elsken, Okeechobee News

OKEECHOBEE — Work on the Kissimmee River Restoration had a serious setback from Hurricane Irma in 2017, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still expects to finish the project in 2020.

Turbulence barriers were no match for the torrent of water rushing down the river from the upper Kissimmee after the hurricane dumped 8 to 12 inches of rain water into the basin.

It takes 12 billion gallons to raise the big lake one inch. The storm runoff dumped so much water that it raised the level of Lake Okeechobee by a foot in less than a week, and four feet by the end of the month. As the major source of water to the lake, much of that runoff came down the river.

The surge of water washed out backfill used to fill in the canal in the area designated Reach 2. Fill dirt and sand now blocks access to oxbows in formerly restored sections of the river.

Some of the fill dirt washed downstream, contributing to the turbidity in Lake Okeechobee…

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