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May 2022
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FDEP Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam Safety “Report” Concerns

On March 18, just a week after the close of the legislative session, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) released the much-awaited Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam Safety “Report.” The publicly released package included ten assorted assessments related to the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam and Buckman Lock safety without an overarching executive summary or conclusion. More than 50 percent of the 261-page package was redacted or blacked out.

FDEP officially changed the Rodman/Kirkpatrick dam hazard classification from low hazard to high hazard to accurately reflect the current situation. One of the Coalition’s legal scholars explained that Dam Risk = Hazard (degree of damage and loss of life if a dam or lock failure or misoperation occurs) X Probability (likelihood of structural failure based on the dam and lock condition).


The Report raises concerns with both the hazard and the probability. The hazard is now confirmed to be high due to the potential loss of life and damage. Although some of the summary pages say the dam’s condition is satisfactory, the package highlights that several critical aspects of the lock and dam’s condition could not be evaluated and that the numerous questions raised by engineers within the text need to be further answered to fully understand the condition and ultimate risk.

Throughout the stack of assessments, engineers state that there was a lack of data related to important structures such as the spillway, both the dam and lock gates, and the apron and curved spillway (ogee) at the base of the dam. Engineers recommended a variety of additional assessments be done. One of the Coalition's member organizations, Florida Defenders of the Environment, has initiated an independent engineering review of the redacted document to obtain feedback on its contents. For a list of initial Coalition comments and recommendations, click here.

Ocklawaha Basin:
The Heart of The Florida Wildlife Corridor

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The recent Florida Wildlife Corridor Summit highlighted the resurgence of support for land conservation in Florida. At the summit, FDEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton supported the Florida Wildlife Corridor by saying, “Land acquisition has been a unifying call. If you follow the money, you will find the policy.”

He went on to say, “The corridor is the lifeblood of the whole state. Representative Paul Renner said, “To see the Florida Wildlife Corridor is to fall in love with it. “Ron Ritter, McKinsey & Co., stated, “Protecting the corridor is protecting the economy. Florida can’t have an economy without a functioning environment.”

A critical link in the Florida Wildlife Corridor is the Ocala to Osceola, or “O2O,” extending 100 miles from the Ocala National Forest north to the Osceola National Forest. Almost the entire width of the southern O2O has been severed by the Rodman Reservoir and Cross Florida Barge Canal, remnants of the canal project halted over 50 years ago.

Restoring the Ocklawaha River by breaching the dam and bringing the reservoir down to the natural Ocklawaha River channel and filling in the west side of the Cross Florida Barge Canal would reconnect the O2O and fill significant gaps in the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Filling those gaps would allow wide-ranging species as the Florida black bear and endangered Florida panther to roam more freely and white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and many other plant and animal species to thrive.

Restoration of the accompanying aquatic corridor provides improved access to river and springs habitat for hundreds of manatees and many important migratory fish such as the striped bass, American shad, channel and white catfish, and Atlantic sturgeon – all migrating up and down from Silver Springs to the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocklawaha River restoration can be initiated without additional land acquisition, but restoration of the already existing state and federal lands can be accomplished using the Land Acquisition Trust Fund or a variety of other existing state and federal sources. Florida Forever funds the Florida Wildlife Corridor as well as other statewide conservation target areas. To learn more - Wildlife Corridors - freetheocklawaha.com

Florida Springs Summit: Highlights Ocklawaha Restoration

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Breaching the Rodman Dam and restoring the Ocklawaha and St. Johns rivers is the most beneficial and cost-effective water and springs restoration project in Florida today. The advocacy work of the Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition was highlighted at the recent Florida Springs Summit with a panel presentation and an advocate of the year award. Putnam and Marion County scientific polls have demonstrated that significant progress has been made in building public awareness and support for this vital restoration project which will help restore 50 springs and three rivers with one solution.

According to scientists, Silver Springs, comprised of 30 springs, cannot be fully restored without a free-flowing Ocklawaha River. The 20 lost springs of the Ocklawaha, submerged by the waters of the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam, would be uncovered providing 150 million gallons a day of clearer, cooler water to the lower Ocklawaha and St. Johns rivers. This naturally pulsed water could help revive the eel grass in the St. Johns River needed for the economically viable commercial and sport fishery. To learn more - Springs - freetheocklawaha.com

Free The Ocklawaha Coalition. For a list of our members click here .
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