The South Venice Beach Waterway Restoration Project is a six-year multi-agency effort that started in 2012

SOUTH VENICE — Residents will celebrate the ongoing enhancement of South Venice neighborhood waterways Saturday with a ceremony at The Grove, a 525-foot-long section of the Siesta Waterway that was cleared of invasive species and restored as part of a six-year effort to improve water quality.

The Grove begins at Seminole and Jamaica roads, then runs north along both sides of Quincy Road and Siesta Drive.

Hundreds of volunteers have cleared exotic vegetation, replacing it with 400 native Florida and environmentally friendly plants and shrubs. The area will be maintained by friends and neighbors under Sarasota County’s Keep Sarasota County Beautiful adoption program.

The ceremony will run from 10 a.m. to noon at the intersection of Quincy Road and Seminole Drive. It will include guest speakers, information booths, refreshments and tours.

About 7,500 linear feet of South Venice waterways have been restored as part of the South Venice Beach Waterway Restoration Project.

Harrison Fox, chairman of the South Venice Water Quality Task Force, said he believes the project, expected to cost about $650,000, is the most ambitious of its type in the state. It was started as a means to improve both the water quality and flow of the waterways that feed into Alligator Creek.

The effort began in 2012, following a survey of 8,000 homeowners in South Venice, with improved water quality pinpointed as the top neighborhood issue, Fox said.

Most of the financing came from $313,000 in Sarasota County and South Venice neighborhood funds that were matched by a $300,000 grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, though funds were also contributed by the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program. Equipment, staff, and other contributions have come from the Sierra Club, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture, Sarasota County and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, which provided inmate work crews.

Residents of South Venice and neighboring Venice Gardens provided more than 1,300 volunteer hours, and the South Venice Garden club provided about 200 plants and helped plant them.

A Sarasota County contractor, Rick Richards Inc., restored about 7,500 linear feet of waterway bank, work that included stabilizing the sloped bank with coconut fiber mats and planting environmentally appropriate plants. Richards will maintain the bank for about a year, with Sarasota County assuming maintenance after that.

The restoration work will continue. Future tasks include completing an inventory of South Venice Beach waterways, planning and funding rehabilitation for Alligator Creek and Lemon Bay, and restoration of selected lakes and ponds.