Monroe County is underway with its water quality improvement and restoration project on canal #84 in Rock Harbor in Key Largo. The work includes organic material removal and backfill of the deeper areas and is funded by a Florida Department of Environmental Protection Keys Stewardship grant. The organic removal process removes the decaying material on the canal's bottom that continually removes oxygen from the water and causes a strong sulfur (rotten egg) odor. Backfilling is the process of raising the canal bottom to an optimum depth (about 7 feet deep) to allow for maximum flushing and tidal flow in and out of the canal. These restoration techniques will increase the amount of oxygen in the canal, increasing its health and the amount of marine life in it. The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2022. Canal #84 is rated a poor water quality canal.
In addition to the project, the residents will be installing and maintaining an air curtain to keep seaweed from re-entering the canal once the project is complete. The County also received a Hurricane Irma grant from the State Department of Economic Opportunity for jetty repairs outside of this canal, scheduled to begin in 2022.
"This canal restoration project has been 5 years in the making, and the residents have been extremely helpful partners every step of the way," said Monroe County Chief Resilience Officer Rhonda Haag. "These improvements are anticipated to restore the impaired waters of the canal and bring the dissolved oxygen levels up to meet marine water quality standards."
Additional restoration projects for other poor and fair water quality canals in the Florida Keys will come forward as additional funding allows. Canal restoration improves the overall health of nearshore waters.