C-51 Reservoir Project Mainly To Benefit South County, Broward

The Palm Beach County League of Cities recently learned from a report about the C-51 Reservoir Project that the $433 million project on the Palm Beach Aggregates land primarily will benefit municipalities in Broward County and southern Palm Beach County.

At the league’s July 23 meeting in Juno Beach, attendees learned that the project is designed to store billions of gallons of water that are otherwise released to tide, disrupting the ecological balance of the Lake Worth Lagoon. The project will release the water instead to areas to the south that face serious water shortages.

The project is planned on property just west of the L-8 Reservoir Project currently under construction. The primary purpose of that project is to regulate water flow into the stormwater treatment areas to the south that feed cleansed water to the Everglades. The L-8 will help to maintain water levels to maximize the cleansing effect.

The proposed C-51 Reservoir Project will be connected to the L-8 project to utilize the giant L-8 inflow gate and outflow pump station that is under construction, eliminating the need for separate pump stations and greatly reducing the cost, according to an independent cost estimate and financial analysis by MWH Group environmental engineers.

League of Cities members were generally favorable toward the project, although no official action was taken. However, some registered concerns about whom it will benefit, when, and who pays for it.

“It’s a big project, but it’s a good project,” said Lisa Tropepe, an engineer with the Engenuity Group and past president of the league. “Anytime we can capture freshwater prior to releasing it to tide is a good thing. The devil is always in the details. There was some concern about cost, financing, the contributors and who will benefit first from the project. That’s a concern to some folks who live adjacent to and are a part of the C-51 Basin.”

Participating utilities include Palm Beach and Broward counties; the cities of Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Sunrise and West Palm Beach; and the Town of Davie.

The seven-year project is broken into two phases, with Phase 1 projected to cost more than $146.2 million, and Phase 2 slated to cost more than $286.4 million, with a total cost estimate of approximately $432.6 million.

The first phase would be able to store 5.5 billion gallons of water for distribution during the dry season. The second phase would add another 14.3 billion gallons of capacity, for a total of 19.8 billion gallons when both phases are finished.

The project is in two phases because the converted mining pits in Phase 1 have been dug and can bring more immediate benefit to the entities in need of the water. The Phase 2 pits still remain to be dug.

Entities anticipated to underwrite costs include Palm Beach and Broward counties, the Lake Worth Drainage District and the South Florida Water Management District.

Palm Beach Aggregates and the SFWMD signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2013 that provides cooperation in developing, operating and maintaining the reservoir, which resulted in a reduction of earlier projected costs by eliminating a dedicated pump station for the C-51 Reservoir and connecting the C-1 and L-8 reservoirs hydraulically, allowing the SFWMD to pump all the water at its L-8 pump station.

“The C-51 is considered more of a regional project than a local project, although governments in the area and adjacent to the C-51 Basin need to be a part of the discussion and formulation of this project as they continue to get into more details,” Tropepe said. “There’s always a concern about the balancing of excess water in the wet season and the lack thereof in the dry season.”

SFWMD staff has confirmed the feasibility of moving water from the C-51 Canal through Lake Worth Drainage District system using the E-1 Canal through southern Palm Beach County to Broward County. Additional analysis is being conducted to determine seepage losses or gains of water moved into Broward County.

The concept for the C-51 Reservoir was born from the development of the L-8 Reservoir.

In 2007, the L-8 Reservoir was being constructed to provide an off-stream reservoir to capture stormwater that was flowing to tide at the Lake Worth Lagoon and impairing the lagoon’s ecological system. The goal was to store the stormwater and retain it for dry-weather augmentation of the Everglades system. The L-8 Reservoir thus became part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan financed by the state and federal governments.

The timing of the reservoir development coincided with the projection of significant population increases in Southeast Florida, requiring an increase in water supply.


  1. Ever notice how the south part of PBC gets a bigger portion of the good pie compared to the north, central and western parts of PBC?

    • The counties are playing catch up instead of preparing for the future. This is a project that should have been considered for land such as the North Quarter surrounding Pratt Whitney, and that could have stopped silt and such from entering the Indiantown River. Instead we are impacting the lagoon each time it rains. This should have been a Saint Lucie and Palm Beach project. Maybe in 30 more years the politicians will realize they made the mistake and argue to be reelected so they can fix their own problem…

      • I must also mention Martin County, as they would have a section of the new retention as I suggested. So that would be three counties, two very young and developing and one young in developing the north of its limits.

Comments are closed.