What exactly is the Herbert Hoover Dike and why is it important?

Published: March 29, 2019 2:15 PM EDT
Updated: March 29, 2019 11:01 PM EDT

Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) is a 143-mile earthen dam that surrounds Lake Okeechobee, the heart of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades system.  The project reduces impacts from flooding as a result of high lake levels for a large area of South Florida.

The first embankments around Lake Okeechobee were constructed by local interest from sand and muck, circa 1915. Hurricane tides overtopped the original embankments in 1926 and 1928, resulting in over 2,500 deaths.

The River and Harbors Act of 1930 authorized the construction of 67.8 miles of levee along the south shore of the lake and 15.7 miles along the north shore. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the levees between 1932 and 1938.

MORE: Congressional Fact Sheet

A major hurricane in 1947 prompted the need for additional flood and storm damage reduction work. As a result, Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1948 authorizing the first phase of the Central and South Florida (C&SF) Project, a comprehensive plan to provide flood and storm damage reduction and other water control benefits in central & south Florida. The new dike system was completed in the late 1960’s and named the Herbert Hoover Dike.

The dike system consists of 143 miles of levee, hurricane gates and other water control structures.

Since 2001, the Corps has made a significant investment, over $870 million, in projects designed to reduce the risk of catastrophic failure of the aging structure. Actions taken include installing a partial cutoff wall along the southeast part of the dike, removing and replacing water control structures (culverts), and conducting a variety of studies and technical reviews to help ensure the safety of south Florida residents.

Corps teams work daily on the dike, providing contractor oversight, quality assurance, inspections, and dike operations and maintenance. Much progress is also being made behind the scenes at the District, where a team of engineers, hydrologists, geologists, scientists, contract and real estate specialists, budget analysts, and many others, work to ensure the very best rehabilitation strategies are applied to the dike today and in the future.

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1928 Hurricane

Map showing flood damage to the Lake Okeechobee region by hurricanes in 1926 and 1928 (photo 1948). Credit: State Archives of Florida

Wreckage of homes and cars after hurricane (photo likely 1928). Credit: State Archives of Florida