Spanning the width of Phillippi Creek — like the backbone of some long-extinct concrete dinosaur, the dam behind the Southgate Community Center ensnares floating logs and vegetation, slows waters and allows waterborne sediments to settle around it.

Originally operated by Carney Groves, Inc., the dam was used to create a water supply to irrigate area citrus groves. It also provided flood control and prevented tidal saltwater from reaching grove lands. When citrus gave way to Southgate’s iconic ranch style homes in the 1950s, the dam was deeded to Sarasota County and its control boards were removed to improve water flow.

Renewed interest in improving the health of Phillippi Creek has motivated a new study to evaluate the cost/benefits of keeping or removing the structure altogether. Sarasota County, in partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, hired Weiler Engineering to survey the area around the dam; determine the pros and cons of removing the dam; identify potential impacts on water quality, flood protection and natural systems; and evaluate costs of sediment management.

The study began in April and is expected to be complete in late 2018. During this time, you may see County staff or their contractors working along the creek. A public meeting will be held later this fall to share results, answer questions and gather community input. If you have questions regarding the project, please contact Kathy Meaux, Project Manager, Sarasota County Public Utilities, at (941) 650-1640 or email