The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) Governing Board on Tuesday recommended nine North Florida springs protection projects totaling nearly $14.1 million.
SRWMD staff considered 17 projects before deciding on nine projects to be sent to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for review and selection. The recommended projects include five local government projects, one dairy project, and three districtwide projects.
The SRWMD project development process is a collaborative effort involving the FDEP, water management districts, community leaders, and local stakeholders. Projects are selected based on benefits for improving water quality, increasing water flow, and protecting Florida’s iconic springs.
“With more than 450 springs in our region, it is critical that we work with local governments and our community partners to protect our springs through projects like these,” said SWRMD executive director Hugh Thomas in the statement. “These funds help us ensure the protection and preservation of our water resources for our local communities and we appreciate the Governor and Legislature for approving funding to protect the springs of our state.”
Recommend projects include:
- Agricultural Springs Protection ($2 million – districtwide) The project provides cost share to agricultural producers to implement practices that reduce nutrient impacts and groundwater pumping.
- Dispersed Storage for Recharge and Alternative Water Supply ($300,000 – Ichetucknee Springs Group) The project builds on the ongoing feasibility analyses to evaluate methods that enhance the beneficial use of stormwater and could assist with enhanced recharge and/or implementation of retention ponds as a source for alternative water supply.
- Conversion of Piedmont Dairy from Grazing to Freestall Barns ($2.5 million – Fanning Springs) The project will enhance dairy operations where 100 percent of manure will be collected to reduce environmental impacts.
- High Springs Lime Rock Mine Acquisition ($800,000 – Hornsby Spring, Santa Fe River) The project acquires 142 acres of open water lakes to eliminate ongoing impacts from mining and prevent potential impacts from future development.
- Lake City Recharge Wetland Expansion ($6.1 million – Ichetucknee Springs Group) The project proposes to expand the City of Lake City’s existing recharge wetland with the addition of a 53-acre treatment and recharge area, that will reduce nitrogen in treated wastewater.
- Alachua County Nutrient Reduction Retrofits of Existing OSTDS (Onsite Treatment Disposal System) ($250,000 – Santa Fe River and springs) The project would offer rebates to property owners to upgrade their septic tank system. The rebate is to offset the increased costs of nutrient-reducing systems and to increase awareness regarding the role of septic systems on water quality.
- Eco-System Services ($200,000 – districtwide) The project looks to evaluate silviculture practices to develop options to improve water yield, which will result in an increase of groundwater recharge.
- Town of Fort White Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility ($1.48 million – Santa Fe River and Devil’s Ear Spring) This is the second phase of the wastewater treatment facility and will expand wastewater service into additional areas of Fort White, including Fort White Elementary and Fort White High schools and the surrounding residential area.
- White Springs Wastewater Treatment Facility Effluent Flow-through Pond ($500,000 – Floridan Aquifer/Camp Branch) The pond construction will result in further water quality improvements to reclaimed wastewater and provide benefits to water quantity from water recharge.