Suwannee Water District approves $9.1M in projects

The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) approved $9.1 million in project funding on Tuesday to address wastewater improvements in North Florida.

The trio of projects, funded by state and federal grants provided to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), will provide wastewater infrastructure and enhance pollutant reduction to help preserve Florida’s natural resources.

The projects span from Live Oak to Gilchrist County and include a septic to sewer system, aquifer recharge and a Columbia County wastewater treatment plant upgrade.

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The Live Oak septic to sewer and reuse project in Suwannee County will receive $3.2 million for the extension of central sewer to 60 residents and three commercial sites at Duval Street, 2nd Street, and Evelyn Street, to reduce nutrients and provide additional public access to reuse. It is estimated this project will reduce nitrogen loading by 1,450 pounds per year and provide 10,000 gallons per day of reuse water. This is being performed in partnership with the City of Live Oak.

The Lancaster Correctional Facility and aquifer recharge project in Gilchrist County will receive $2.9 million for Phase VII of the wastewater system extension that will include construction of a force main to convey the facility’s wastewater to the new Fanning Springs Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility. It is estimated this project will reduce the annual nitrogen load by 3,010 pounds and provide 28,000 gallons per day of reuse water. This is being performed in conjunction with the Nature Coast Regional Water Authority.

The North Florida Mega Industrial Park in Columbia County will receive $2.96 million toward Phase 2 of the wastewater treatment plant project that is estimated to provide approximately 500,000 gallons per day of reuse water and reduce nitrogen load by 5,551 pounds per year. This project is being performed in conjunction with Columbia County.

Additionally, the SRWMD governing board also approved an agreement with FDEP to receive funds for a Dairy Farm Pollutant Pilot project, which will be used to provide grants within the Suwannee River Basin Management Action Plan area for large-scale agricultural dairy farms to develop regional pollution reduction projects. District staff will continue working with the United Dairy Farmers of Florida, Inc., on grant specifics.

The Board also approved agreements with Townsend Brothers Ag Enterprises and Koons Farms, Inc., to implement precision agricultural practices on their operations that will cost effectively reduce the use of water and nutrients in groundwater that contribute to spring flow.

“Funding enhanced infrastructure projects like these that improve water supply and water quality is a vital part of the mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District,” said Hugh Thomas, the district’s executive director. “It is paramount that we protect Florida’s environmental assets, and we appreciate Gov. DeSantis, our legislature, the Department of Environmental Protection, and our Board for their continued commitment in our efforts.”

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