The C-51 Reservoir project got a big boost this week when Florida Governor Rick Scott earmarked $20 million in funding in his proposed 2017-2018 state budget. The 4.5-billion-gallon Phase 1 of the C-51 Reservoir, located in western Palm Beach County, will help protect South Florida’s drinking water supply by sending up to 35 million gallons a day of water through existing canals to recharge the Biscayne Aquifer. The reservoir will also help relieve flooding in Palm Beach County, combat saltwater intrusion, and reduce freshwater releases to tide which cause ecological damage to the Lake Worth Lagoon.

Broward County Commissioner Tim Ryan is a leading advocate for the C-51 Reservoir Project. “By requesting $20 million for the C-51 Reservoir, the Governor shows he recognizes the vital importance of this alternative water supply project to the economic future of South Florida. I look forward to working with him and members of the Legislature to secure full funding for the project and get construction underway.”

“Protecting our water supply is an issue on which Democrats and Republicans can unite, as the Governor’s budget demonstrates. The C-51 Reservoir project will serve water and other environmental needs now and for future generations.  I appreciate that the Governor values the innovative planning that is necessary to meet the demands of the future,” said Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief. 

The proposed reservoir, located in a former rock quarry adjacent to the South Florida Water Management District’s existing L-8 Reservoir, will be built under an innovative public-private partnership with the current landowner, Palm Beach Aggregates, and a coalition of local governments. Phase 1 of the project is expected to cost $161 million and take 24 months to complete.  Following 10-years of project planning, the project’s advancement could help address the growing demand for increased water storage within the regional system, necessary for water supply, flood control, and water quality improvements for the Everglades and coastal ecosystems.

Broward County’s Water & Wastewater Services, the City of Sunrise, the City of Lauderhill, and the City of Dania Beach have committed to fund approximately half of the cost of the project, but the remainder of the funding must be secured before construction can begin.

C-51 Reservoir Project participants plan to request bridge financing from the Florida Legislature for the remainder of the funding during the upcoming legislative session. The loan would be paid back to the State as additional water utilities and other stakeholders join the project by purchasing storage capacity in the reservoir.