The Monroe County-led Hurricane Irma marine debris and sediment removal project has reached the one-year mark. The debris and sediment removal activities in the 258 approved canals throughout Monroe County, Islamorada and Marathon are considered a triumph for the overall Florida Keys environment. In the past year, more than 15,000 cubic yards of marine debris and 8,000 cubic yards of sediment have been removed.
The canal cleanups are funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Emergency Watershed Protection $49.2 million grant used to clean Hurricane Irma marine debris from canals and was awarded in August 2018.
“Everyone has worked hard over the past year to clear the canals of debris and help restore our marine environment. We are extremely grateful to NRCS for the grant funding.” said Rhonda Haag, Monroe County’s Director of Sustainability, who is overseeing the project. “We also want to thank our vendors, Tavernier-based Adventure Environmental and Wood Environmental, who are the ones out in the hot sun every day clearing the debris and monitoring the work.”
As of Aug. 20, $26.5 million of the grant funding has been spent on the clearing of marine debris and sediment in 190 of the 258 canals. The project is projected to be completed in November.
The NRCS is the federal agency that determined which canals were approved for clearing. The County submitted engineering-based applications that included underwater sonar and photographs to NRCS as part of the project application process. Marathon and Islamorada canals were also included in the applications.
Photo: Marine debris created by Hurricane Irma is still being removed from canals throughout the Florida Keys. On the year anniversary of the project, sunken boats and other debris were removed from Canal #46 in Key Largo between Transylvania Avenue and Oceanview Drive by Adventure Environmental, Inc. Two crews worked the canal with heavy machinery to remove the debris.