TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced a suite of 40 projects that will receive $50 million from the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget to improve water quality, reduce nutrient loading, recharge water supply and protect habitat in Florida’s iconic spring systems. This includes a state investment of more than $9 million to protect springs in Southwest Florida, including Aripeka, Weeki Wachee, Kings Bay, Crystal and Rainbow springsheds. Combined with match funding from Florida’s water management districts and local partners, the investment in springs projects statewide will total more than $94 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year.
“Thanks to the continued commitment of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature in securing a dedicated funding source for springs restoration and protection, we can continue to focus on completing strategic acquisitions and projects that will produce real benefits for our spring systems,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and Legislature, the water management districts and partners in the environmental, agricultural and local communities to conserve and protect Florida’s iconic springs.”
“This funding allows our district scientists to continue the important work of protecting our water resources,” said Brian Armstrong, P.G., executive director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. “We are thankful to Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their financial commitment to ensure these environmental treasures are protected for future generations of Floridians.”
The project development process is a collaborative effort among the department, water management districts, community leaders and local stakeholders. Projects are selected based on pollutant reduction, water conservation, cost effectiveness and available matching dollars.
Following are the four selected projects for the Southwest Florida region, benefiting Aripeka, Weeki Wachee, Kings Bay and Crystal springs.
Pasco County Crews Lake Natural Systems: A total of nearly $8.5 million in collaborative funding will be used to complete construction of infrastructure, providing reclaimed water and restoring approximately 200 acres of wetlands in and adjacent to Crews Lake. This project will result in an estimated nutrient reduction of 53,272 pounds of nitrogen per year.
Citrus County Advanced Wastewater Treatment Upgrades: A total of $1.5 million in collaborative funding will be used for construction upgrades to the existing Brentwood Wastewater Treatment Facility to produce advanced wastewater treatment level reclaimed water. This project will result in an estimated total nutrient reduction of 13,698 pounds of nitrogen per year.
Citrus County Northwest Quadrant Sewer Extension: A total of $6 million in collaborative funding will be used for sewer main expansion construction within the Northwest quadrant of Citrus County primarily serviced by septic systems. This sewer main extension will route up to 2 million gallons per day of wastewater flows to the Meadowcrest Wastewater Treatment Facility to produce additional high-quality reclaimed water flows to be sent to the Duke Energy Crystal River Power Complex. This project will result in an estimated total nutrient reduction of 87,791 pounds of nitrogen per year.
Zephyrhills Advanced Wastewater: A total of $5 million in collaborative funding will be used for the design, permitting, construction and upgrades of an existing wastewater treatment facility to produce advanced wastewater treatment level reclaimed water. This project will result in an estimated nutrient reduction of 27,397 pounds of nitrogen per year.
A complete list of the springs protection projects funded by the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget can be found here. These projects will be considered by the water management district Governing Boards as part of their upcoming budget hearings. More information is also available on springs projects funded during the FY 16-17 year and FY 15-16 year.
About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves.
Visit the department’s website at www.dep.state.fl.us.