The communities in the Peace Creek watershed, located in eastern Polk County, are about to experience an economic boom and a period of unprecedented growth, driven by the CSX Integrated Logistics Center, Legoland, and the Inland Fiber and Data Center. The growth will be facilitated by the Polk Parkway extension which will increase transportation access to Winter Haven and the southern portions of the watershed and support the build-out of the watershed over the next 15-20 years.  The new development will increase the demand for public infrastructure in the watershed and add to the pressing need for water supply (human use and lake levels), restoration of water quality, flood protection, and environmental resiliency.


The City of Winter Haven supports the opportunity for economic growth and has adopted the Peace Creek watershed Sustainable Water Resource Management Plan (Sustainability Plan) to ensure the ongoing and future water resource needs of the watershed are met. The regional system for storing flood waters and managing water proposed in the Sustainability Plan (see "Sapphire Necklace" map, above) will provide much needed flood protection in the southern portion of the watershed, where a great deal of the new development will occur. This approach to managing and storing water is less costly to implement and more beneficial than traditional drainage canal systems designed to drain and dispose of water. It maximizes the amount of developable land, while at the same time providing other important benefits, including water storage for supply, treatment, restoration, recreation, beauty, education, and community identity.


Getting the water right and building a solid foundation for economic, cultural, and environmental sustainability in the Peace Creek watershed are the primary objectives of the Sustainable Winter Haven Initiative.


A two-page summary of the Sustainable Winter Haven initiative can be obtained by clicking here.


A detailed description of the "Sapphire Necklace" hydrologic restoration project can be obtained by clicking here.


The Gray to Green community development guide for increasing the beneficial use of stormwater to restore lake water quality, enhance public water supply, reduce flooding, and protect natural resources can be obtained by clicking here.


A public education and training summary presentation of the Winter Haven Gray to Green Development Guide can be obtained by clicking here.

Regional Infrastructure for Managing Water (aka "Sapphire Necklace"). Conceptual restoration plan for the Peace Creek watershed. Lighter blue areas are restored wetland storage features; darker blue areas are enhanced conveyance features. Not shown are improved lake levels and water storage in lakes and more infiltration of rainwater in the sandy soils along the Winter Haven and Lake Wales Ridge areas. 

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"This is where opportunity meets necessity:

properly planned and managed, the business and economic growth opportunities in Winter Haven could help restore and protect the water resources necessary to sustain a healthy and vital local economy, culture, and environment."


The 50 lakes inside and adjacent to Winter Haven, Florida, are a source of great pride to its residents, and an economic engine that has long attracted people to the area. The City's economy, its quality of life, and its current and future viability depend on preserving and sustaining the health of water resources, the most visible of which are its lakes. Protecting these resources - getting the water right - is crucial as the City, the eight other municipalities, and Polk county plan for the build-out of the Peace Creek watershed. This is where opportunity meets necessity: properly planned and managed, the business and economic growth opportunities in the watershed could help restore and protect the water resources necessary to sustain a healthy and vital local economy, culture and environment.