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Environment Focus: Upper Keys Canal Restoration to Cost Upwards of $300 Million

In accordance with the 1970’s declaration that Florida Keys real estate lies within an “Area of Critical Concern,” many environmental protections and improvements are constantly on the forefront of minds of city council members. A massive canal restoration project initially began in 2014 when major surveys were conducted to determine environmental damage and water quality. Initial technology ideas were also identified to offer solutions.

Plans were temporarily sidetracked by the destruction caused by the 2017 Hurricane Irma. Environmental efforts temporarily switched to help provide support and recovery following the damage caused by Irma. Now, however, Upper Keys villages are ready to turn the focus back to canal restoration.

The current plan for canal restoration is largely based on a report, created by Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions Inc, which analyzed a variety of factors to rank the canals in terms of their need for recovery. Included among the factors looked at were toxicity outlooks, nutrient accumulation, and the water quality of each canal. Additionally, any canal that empties into either the Atlantic Ocean or Florida Bay received higher rankings. Other elements such as resident interest, how beneficial it would be to the public, and cost of restoration were also factored in.

The number 1 spot on the list is canal 147, located as part of Lower Matecumbe real estate, will need a number of projects including backfill, organic removal, and weedgate to the tune of $2.2 million.

The highest priced project according to the report is canal 150, which is located in Lower Matecumbe Key, amidst Port Antigua homes. Based on the criteria, it is estimated that the culvert and backfill work needed for restoration of this canal will cost $41 million. Canal 150 falls at number 23 on the list.

As it stands, the total restoration cost for the Upper Keys stands at upwards of $300 million. While initial stages of the plan have been publicly funded, environmental resources manager Peter Frezza promised a variety of additional funding opportunities on the horizon. The Florida Keys Stewardship Act is one potential avenue for funding, as well as a project in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers.

The need for canal restoration is very evident throughout the Keys. Though it seems like a steep price tag, this will only benefit the environment as well as all residents of Florida Keys homes and Florida Keys homes for sale


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