Water Project

Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Restoration

Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Charlotte County and Lee County, FL

Solution Overview


Coastal and Heartland National Estuary (CHNEP)

Business Challenge:

  • CHNEP identified watershed issues creating environmental damage within the Charlotte Flatwoods area


  • Water Science Associates, an Apex company, moved water stored in the upper watershed to the lower watershed


  • Restored wetland hydroperiods generated more balanced flows to tidal areas and improved spawning habitat for game fish


Working on behalf of multiple stakeholders including South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), Florida Fish & Game, Charlotte County, Lee County, and the City of Cape Coral, the CHNEP identified watershed issues within the Charlotte Flatwoods area including excess water in the upland portions of the watershed. The excess water had caused environmental damage to existing flora and fauna, and blockage of historic flow-ways by a major railroad grade, US 41, I-75, and the berming of private properties for agricultural, mining, and residential development, created water deficits in the downstream areas of the watershed. CHNEP hired Water Science Associates to study the system, develop an integrated groundwater and surface water model, and use that model to evaluate various improvement and restoration options.


One of the major alternatives was to find a way to move water artificially stored in the upper watershed to the lower watershed. Water Science Associates developed various means to accomplish this, one of which included conversion of a nearly completed mine to a reservoir for seasonal storage of water. However, there was no identified means to pay for that reservoir conversion.


Water Science Associates’ recommended restoration plan improves wetland hydroperiods by storing flooded wetlands in Babcock Webb and delivering the stored water to wetlands in Pens Wildlife Management area. The project also included water storage that was delivered to the public water supply utility in Cape Coral. The restored wetland hydroperiods in Yucca Pens also resulted in more balanced flows to tidal areas of Matlacha Pass, thereby improving spawning habitat for game fish.

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