<b> JACKSONVILLE, Fla.</b> - After nearly 20 years of hard work at a cost of more than $50 million, Florida's Rose Bay is now in the final phase of restoration efforts that will return the distressed bay to its pristine quality of yesteryear.

"I remember when my son use to swim and play in the bay and to see Rose bay decline over the years has been painful," said Edna Reed, a long time Port Orange resident. "To see this bay restored is such a relief. We've all worked hard to see this happen and I am so grateful we will all get the beautiful bay we remember back."

"The restoration at Rose Bay is a reflection of this community's unity and persistence," said Col. Alfred Pantano, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District in his address to the more than 75 residents, legislative officials, community leaders, and members of the media who attended the May 4 celebration marking the start of the final phase of restoration.

In his address, U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, held a copy of the congressional act authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the bay of accumulated muck dating back to 1996.

"Sir, today you are complying with orders from 14 years ago, I see why sometimes we are called 'slow government,'" said Mica with the audience laughing.

U.S. Rep. Susan Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach, said that some people felt Rose Bay was not worth saving, but she did, and many residents of Volusia County did too.

In the early 1990s, local homeowners and concerned agencies first identified restoration actions required to re-establish the normal ecology of Rose Bay, a natural bay connected to the Halifax River, 3.5 miles north of Ponce de Leon Inlet. Hundreds of residents and no less than five governmental agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District, the city of Port Orange, St. Johns River Water Management District, Volusia County and the Florida Department of Transportation, provided input for the development of a restoration plan.

The five-point restoration plan included controlling storm water runoff pollution, eliminating leaking septic systems that had discharged into Rose Bay, replacing the existing U.S. 1 bridge, removing an old causeway that restricted water flow and the final phase which includes removing the accumulated sediment muck from the bottom of Rose Bay.

Restoration should be complete by November 2010.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16