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Dredging Project Produces Interesting Finds

Posted on May 20, 2024

The Weeki Wachee Channel Restoration Project continues throughout the year and the hand dredging of accumulated sediment has yielded some surprises.

Dr. Madison Trowbridge, springs scientist for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, made a presentation at the Weeki Wachee River Summit on May 3 that included an update on the project. There she revealed something crucial uncovered by workers from Sea and Shoreline, LLC: another small spring.

“What’s nice about this- finding a spring- is we can add it to our inventory,” Trowbridge said when interviewed about the summit presentation. “So if there’s any sort of work that’s being done, not just by our agency but throughout, this would go to a state-wide inventory so other agencies and the public has information to know where the spring is.

“A lot of times this is important just to understand the history of some of the areas. Especially on old maps, you can sometimes kind of trace where the spring has been previously. For our purposes it is interesting to have that data-collection point as a resource to the aquifer.”

It’s a third-magnitude spring, according to Trowbridge, which “are not very high-flow systems and so that’s probably why it was covered up by the sediment.”

Dr. Madison Trowbridge shows off some of the dredging finds at the Weeki Wachee River Summit on May 3.

Additionally, wood debris, such as large, submerged trees, has been uncovered and kept in the river.
“This is exciting because this will be able to provide habitat for fish and other organisms,” Trowbridge said.

The biggest hit at the summit, though, was the main thing found during dredging. Trowbridge brought in pieces of trash discovered in the river dating back 60-65 years.

“I made the joke that it’s basically old enough to collect social security,” Trowbridge said. “We see a wide variety of just primarily trash in the river. And that emphasizes the importance of education and outreach to let people know how they can help protect these systems, which is what the summit is about.”

The project has taken longer than anticipated and Trowbridge said SWFMD and the contractors are working to determine a completion date. Sea and Shoreline was brought in last summer after a dispute with the original contractor. The company uses divers to “hand dredge” the sand from the channel using a vacuum hose.

Initially, the project was planned to deepen the channel and improve the environment for manatees who feed on the plant life in the river. Despite the delays, Trowbridge indicated there have been positive developments.

“Overall, with the project, we’ve seen a lot of great ecological impacts,” Trowbridge said. “The contractor is meeting all permit requirements and we’re able to see the ecological benefits within the system.”

For more information on the project, Trowbridge encouraged the public to visit

Map of the dredge alignment project area. According to SWFMWD public information officer Susanna Martinez Tarokh, the spring was found near the upstream boundary of the project.


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