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Case study: Changing

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river management - the Kissimmee River


It is estimated the project will cost $414
million (initial channelization cost $20
million), a bill being shared by Florida
and the federal government.

The 165-kilometre Kissimmee River once


meandered through central Florida. lts
floodplain, reaching up to
5 kilometres wide, was inundated for long
periods by
heavy seasonal rains. Wetland plants, wading
birds and fish thrived there, but the frequent,
prolonged flooding caused severe impacts to
people.
Between 1962 and 1 971 engineering changes
were made to deepen, straighten and widen
the river, which was transformed into a 90kilometre, 1 0-metre deep drainage canal. The
river was channelized to provide an outlet canal
for draining floodwaters from the upper
Kissimmee lakes basin, and to provide flood
protection.

lmpacts of channelization
The channelization of the Kissimee River had
severa! unintended impacts (see Figure 5.35).
Concerns about the sustainability of existing
ecosystems led to a massive restoration
project, on a scale unmatched elsewhere.

Restoration of the river's floodplain could


result in higher losses of water due to
evapotranspiration during wet periods. In
extremely dry spells, navigation may be
impeded, but it is expected that navigable
depths will be maintained at least 90% of
the time.
Benefits of restoration
Higher water levels should ultimately
support a natural river ecosystem
again.
Reestablishment of floodplain wetlands is
expected to result in decreased nutrient
loads to Lake Okeechobee.
Populations of key avian species such
as wading birds and waterfowl have
returned to the restored area, and
numbers have increased.
Dissolved oxygen levels have
doubled, which is critical for the
survival of aquatic species.

The Kissimmee River Restoration Project


The aim is to restore over 1 00 square
kilometres of river and associated floodplain
wetlands by 201 5. The project was started in
1999 and will benefit over 320 species,
including the bald eagle, wood stork and snail
kite.
Restoration of the river and its associated natural
resources requires dechannelization. This entails
backfilling approximately half of the flood-control
channel and reestablishing the flow of water
through the natural river channel. In residential
areas the flood-control channel will remain in
place. Seasonal rains and flows now inundate
the floodplain in the restored areas.

Potential revenue associated with


increased recreational usage on the
restored river could significantly enhance
local and regional economies.

1o do:

a Outline the benefits of wetlands.


b Describe how the channelization of the
Kissimmee affected local ecosystems.

e Explain the term "river restoration". What are the


(i) aims and (ii) benefits of river restoration?

The costs of restoration


r--- -

r__
Pre-canal average '-'---- -'-\

1- Lakes in the upper


Kissimmee Basin
controlled to reduce flow
south.

+-

_!...----

Gu/fof

Flat, low-lying drainage

basin.
flow 0.42
m/sec;
now 0.05
m/sec.
During a
flood the

Kissimmee

Before the canal the


spilled over the floodplain.

\\-',,.------ -l-----1- Canal reduced length of river


from 160 km
to 90 km. Now a series of lakes
controlled by

Mexico

water now stays in the

---t--- ----,l,\1

-+-

locks. The canal is designed to hold all floodwater.

drainage basin
for just ene
day
(previously f
or
11 days).

= Cha
nnelized
river
;__
Water
control J
ock

Loss of wetland
habitats. Now
92% fewer
wading birds
and waterfowl
in
w
in
te
r.

-Drainage basin boundary


Loss of animal and f
ish species as river
became more
stagnant.

n Other water

bodies

Less recharge of
aquifers.
Groundwater
becoming more
saline.
affe
c
t
e
d
b
y
c
h
a
n
g
i
n
g
w
a
t
e
r
i
n
p
u
t
s

'-----+ lmpacts downstream:

Figure 5.

lmpacts of the Kissimmee River channelizaton

eutrophication because of
extra

nutrients in the river

1 29

Caso de Estudio: Cambio de


gestin de ro - Ro de
Kissimmee
El ro de Kissimmee de 165
kilmetros una vez serpenteaba a
travs de Florida central. llanura
aluvial LTS, alcanzando hasta 5

kilmetros de ancho, se inund durante largos perodos por las


fuertes lluvias de temporada. Plantas de humedales, aves
zancudas y peces prosperaron all, pero las inundaciones
frecuentes y prolongadas causaron severos impactos a las
personas. Entre 1962 y 1 971 los cambios de ingeniera hicieron
profundizar, enderezar y ensanchar el ro, que se transform en
un kilmetro 90, canal 1 0 metros de drenaje profundo. El ro fue
canalizado para proporcionar un canal de salida para drenar las
aguas de la cuenca superior de lagos de Kissimmee y a
proporcionar proteccin contra las inundaciones.
lmpactos de canalizacin
La canalizacin del ro Kissimee tena severa! no deseados
impactos (vase figura 5.35). Preocupaciones sobre la
sostenibilidad de los ecosistemas existentes condujeron a un
proyecto de restauracin masiva, en una escala sin precedentes
en otros lugares.
El proyecto de restauracin del ro de Kissimmee
El objetivo es restaurar kilmetros cuadrados ms de 1 00 de
ro y llanura de inundacin asociada humedales 201 5. El
proyecto se inici en 1999 y beneficiar a ms de 320 especies,
incluyendo el guila calva, cigea y cometa de caracol.
Restauracin del ro y sus recursos naturales asociados
requiere dechannelization. Esto implica rellenar
aproximadamente la mitad del canal de control de inundaciones
y restablecer el flujo de agua a travs del canal natural del ro.
En zonas residenciales seguir siendo el canal de control de
inundaciones en el lugar. Flujos y las lluvias estacionales ahora
inundan la llanura de inundacin en las zonas restauradas.
Los costos de restauracin
- Se estima que el proyecto tendr un costo de $ 414 millones
(canalizacin inicial costo $ 20 millones), un proyecto de ley
siendo compartido por Florida y el gobierno federal.
- Restauracin de la llanura aluvial del ro podra resultar en
mayores prdidas de agua por evapotranspiracin durante los
perodos hmedos. En periodos muy secos, puede impedirse la
navegacin, pero se espera que se mantendr por lo menos el

90% del tiempo a profundidades


navegables.
Beneficios de la restauracin
- Altos niveles de agua otra vez en
ltima instancia deberan apoyar
un ecosistema natural del ro.
- Reestablecimiento de
humedales de planicie de
inundacin se espera como
resultado cargas de nutrientes
disminuidas a Lago Okeechobee.
- Poblaciones de especies de
aves claves como aves zancudas
y aves acuticas han regresado a
la zona restaurada, y los nmeros
han aumentado.
- Se duplicaron los niveles de
oxgeno disuelto, que es crtico
para la supervivencia de las
especies acuticas.
- Ingresos potenciales asociados
con creciente uso recreativo en el
ro restaurado podran mejorar
considerablemente las economas
locales y regionales.
To do
a- Exponer los beneficios de los
humedales.
b- Describir cmo la canalizacin
de el Kissimmee afectado los
ecosistemas locales.
c- Explique el trmino
"restauracin de ro". Cules son
los objetivos (i) y (ii) beneficios de
la restauracin de ro?