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South Florida Water Managers To Build Underground Flood Wall Five Stories Deep

Restoration cannot help the Everglades if the water is not clean. Photo courtesy Everglades National Park
Restoration cannot help the Everglades if the water is not clean. Photo courtesy Everglades National Park

South Florida water managers approved an underground seepage wall yesterday around a swampy neighborhood built on Everglades marshes. The wall will be 63 feet deep, two miles long and cost $14 million dollars.

WLRN’s Jenny Staletovich reports water managers would eventually like to see the wall extend all the way down to Florida City, another 25 miles.
Board members at the South Florida Water Management District say building the underground wall will fix flooding problems around the Las Palmas neighborhood as Everglades restoration brings more water south. The rural neighborhood was built over Everglades wetlands and has flooded for decades, despite millions spent on flood control. Board members also said the Las Palmas wall should be the first leg in what could be a 27-mile long underground wall separating Everglades National Park from the rest of Miami-Dade. "This is a curtain wall that needs to be built and, not just in the first phase, but all the way down so that we can protect the people who are down south." Board member Scott Wagner represents Miami-Dade County. "If this thing works and we can keep moving water south and can keep water in the park and keep the Homestead farmers in good shape, it's a home run for everybody," Wagner said. The concept of underground curtain walls goes back to the 1990s. But it was shelved after Miami-Dade County raised concerns over cutting off groundwater that helps recharge well fields. Biscayne National Park also worried about water being cut off to the bay. The new contract gives the governing board the option of extending the wall.