The Winter Haven City Commission is seeking a $47 million federal grant to buy four parcels totaling 1,767 acres in the Peace River Basin as part of its long-term plan to create water storage areas to advance the city’s long-term utility, development and recreational plans.
The lands are primarily pastures and marshes in and around the World War I-era agricultural drainage ditch system that flows through formerly rural lands in the Winter Haven-Lake Wales area toward the Peace River. They are located at various spots between areas north of Dundee Road between Buckeye Loop Road and Sage Road, south of Cypresswood and west of Lake Ashton.
According to the city resolution, the idea is to create new water storage areas that will improve flood protection and increase aquifer recharge, provide sites for future nature parks and provide adjacent property owners with new waterfront lots for future development.
City utility officials have stated in the past that they hope the increased aquifer recharge they hope the project will achieve will be used to justify maintaining current or increasing future aquifer withdrawals at a time when other utilities have been told they may face pumping limits because recent studies have concluded the aquifer in this part of central Florida has been pumped to its sustainable limit.
The overpumping was cited in the decline in flows in the Upper Peace River and the cessation of flow from Kissengen Spring near Bartow in 1950.