Bank improvements under way in Canal 1 in Palm Bay

PALM BAY, Fla., March 30, 2016 — The first phase of improvements to stabilize the banks of Canal 1 in Palm Bay are now under way. The current project follows pump upgrades in November at the west end of the canal, where a water quality improvement project is sending hundreds of millions of gallons of water to the Upper St. Johns River Basin.

“Our goal is to reduce the chance of serious erosion along this stretch of Canal 1, especially during storm events or rapid drawdowns,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Slope improvements also make good financial sense by minimizing maintenance costs in the future.”

For decades, Canal 1 in Palm Bay shunted storm water away from its natural destination, the St. Johns River, and instead directed it to the Indian River Lagoon, straining the estuarine environment with nutrients, sediments and unnatural flows of freshwater. Pumping on the west end of the system now sends up to 39 percent of this average annual runoff back to the St. Johns River, after being naturally filtered through a 2,000-acre treatment system known as the Sawgrass Lake Water Management Area. The project will send an estimated long-term average of 27.2 million gallons of water a day back to the St. Johns River.

The latest project finds district crews reshaping and stabilizing the north side of the canal east of Interstate 95. Once the north canal bank is completed, the district will likely cease work for the summer, allowing the canal water levels to be brought back up, and provide as much flow restoration to the St. Johns River as possible during the rainy season. Crews will be back in the fall to stabilize the south side of the canal. The total cost of the bank stabilization is approximately $1.6 million.