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Posted on: October 25, 2019

CELEBRATING THE CLEARING OF THE LAST CANAL: NRCS HURRICANE IRMA MARINE DEBRIS PROGRAM

Rhonda Haag and Roman Gastesi celebrate at the last canal being cleared

Monroe County, Village of Islamorada, and Dept. of Environmental Protection officials along with the vendor Adventure Environmental, Inc. and the monitoring company Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions celebrated the clearing of the last canal in the Hurricane Irma marine debris removal project in Marathon on Thursday. The environmental restoration effort was funded through a United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) grant.

“For the residents that live here, this is another symbol that we are coming back from the hurricane,” said Michelle Coldiron, Monroe County Commissioner. “So many residents use canals as their highway. This is how they make their livelihoods and for them to have their canals cleared of debris, business will be back to usual.”

The project started in August 2018. As of Oct. 24, 2019, 409 days of the 505-day revised project, the removal work status is as follows:

  • 97 percent complete with additional approved marine debris removal canals (241 out of 247 canals in total)
  • 65 percent of the grant funding for cleanup has been used for the original and revised project ($30 million out of $45.8 million).
  • The project is ahead of schedule and near completion. Two additional canals in Islamorada were recently approved by NRCS for sediment removal. 
  • More than 16,401 cubic yards of debris pulled from local waters.
  • 75 local employees on eight different crews cleared the canals.

The County applied for the canals to be cleared, and NRCS selected the approved canals. The original project scope started with 103 of the most impacted canals in the Florida Keys. Due to the success of the program, additional canals were approved totaling 247 canals. There is a total of 503 canals in the Florida Keys.

“This has been a tremendous project and it has been truly appreciated by the homeowners on the canals that have been cleared of debris,” said David Rice, Monroe County Commissioner. “This shows how we get things done.”

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