Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Taylor Creek Reservoir

This is a "Work" post with a few interesting photos.  Well, I think they're interesting.  You might just yawn.  But in case anyone is interested in what I do, read on . . .

Last Thursday I went on a site visit to Taylor Creek Reservoir, which is down in central Florida, on the border between Osceola and Orange Counties.  Out in the sticks, but kind of close to the City of Cocoa. This is the main project I'm working on right now. This levee and reservoir were built by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) back in 1969 to provide flood protection and water supply to some of the surrounding communities.  Since that time, it's eroded quite a bit and is in need of repair.  My agency, which manages the levee, is tasked with rehabbing the levee to raise it to the original elevations it was designed for and to fix areas that have eroded, adding a couple of emergency spillways and putting in a levee toe drain.

I went on the site visit to just confirm some things in preparation for developing my next set of construction drawings (I'm at the 60% Design Stage).  I was hoping to see some cool wildlife - often I see some really great stuff on my site visits. Alas, this time the cool critters were apparently hiding or at a party somewhere else, and my photos are mostly scenery.  And some cows (well, bulls).

Smoke in the sky!  
When we got to the levee, we noticed a CRAZY amount of smoke in the sky.  It was really cool looking. We weren't sure where it was coming from at the time. Turns out it was smoke from a controlled burn our agency was doing on another of our properties in the area. Controlled burns (aka "Prescribed Fires") are used to burn the underbrush, which helps prevent wildfires, helps restore and maintain natural plant and animal communities (especially those which are fire-adapted and require fire as part of their life-cycle), and even helps control tree diseases. Here is a cool link to our website which talks about "controlled burns".

Another smoke view, along with a view southward on the levee with TCR to the west (on the right).
A levee is basically the same as a dam, though there are technically differences that have to do with the amount of water which is retained. In reality, this "levee" should be classified as a dam, but USACE called it a levee when they built it, so that's still what we call it. In this case, it holds back water from Cox Creek and Taylor Creek to form the Taylor Creek Reservoir.

Gopher Tortoise burrow.
Gopher Tortoise.
Note: I didn't see any actual gopher tortoises during my site visit.  I just thought you might like to see what they look like.
Photo credit: St. Johns River Water Management District
Gopher tortoises are endangered species here in Florida.  Unfortunately, it isn't a good thing when they build their burrows in our levees because it causes erosion and makes the levees less stable. We're in the process of relocating the gopher tortoises from this levee to other areas where they can live out their lives in gopher tortoise domesticity, without wrecking our stuff!

Bull in the house!!!
This levee lies in the middle of pasture land, and while the cattle aren't supposed to get up onto the levee, they do. Somehow Mr. Bull managed to push his way inside this structure (which controls the spillway for the levee). Happily, he moved on to greener pastures by the time we left, so we could close everything back up!



Nice view of Taylor Creek Reservoir.
And that was the highlight reel of my site visit.  I also have tons of photos from the day of unattractive bridges, culverts, wet spots, filled-in gopher tortoise burrows, etc.  But those aren't nearly as cool.  Hope you enjoyed the highlights of my day . . .