DEP Partners Dedicate $22 Million to Lake Harney, Lake Monroe, Smith Canal, Middle St. Johns River Restoration

SANFORD– Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. joined local officials Thursday to commemorate the adoption of a basin management action plan for Lake Harney, Lake Monroe, Smith Canal and the Middle St. Johns River, made possible through a $22 million commitment of state and local partners.

Governor Rick Scott said, “We’re working to not only protect Florida’s natural treasures, but enhance and revitalize our waterbodies. This commitment of $22 million by state and local partners to improve the water quality of Lake Harney, Lake Monroe, Smith Canal and the Middle St. Johns River is a great example of what can be done when state and local partners work together. We have some of the best waterbodies in the world, and we’ll continue to take action to ensure we protect and improve them, for future generations to enjoy.”

The Department adopted water quality restoration goals — known as total maximum daily loads — for these waterbodies that call for reductions in nitrogen concentrations of 37-39 percent and reductions in phosphorus concentrations of 26-33 percent to improve water quality conditions in the lakes, canal and river. The total maximum daily loads were the basis for the recently developed restoration plan for the basin. To date, the Department has adopted a total of 11 basin management action plans, covering 89 waterbody segments. Nine more are currently in development covering 61 additional waterbody segments.

“One of DEP’s top priorities is getting Florida’s water right, which includes both ensuring an adequate supply and improving the quality of our water,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “The State of Florida has always been a leader in water quality assessment and restoration, but we are now insisting on a sense of urgency in identifying solutions to restore our impacted waterways. The Department is now focused on achieving measurable ecological progress through its restoration process. DEP looks forward to continuing this partnership as we take immediate action to improve the water quality of this important watershed.”

While goal-setting is important, implementing actions on the ground result in improving the health of our waterways. This official plan assigns reduction responsibilities within the watershed, details projects that will be implemented in the next five years to reduce pollution and tracks changes in water quality as a result of those projects.

During the first five-year phase of the plan, stakeholders will achieve approximately 78 percent of the required total nitrogen reductions and 87 percent of the total phosphorus reductions required by the stakeholders within this basin. The remaining reductions will be addressed in the second five-year phase. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus introduced into a waterway can trigger algal blooms.

The plan for Lake Harney, Lake Monroe, Smith Canal and the Middle St. Johns River is part of the Department’s comprehensive approach to identifying polluted waterways and partnering with local, regional, and state interests to return the water bodies to a healthy condition. Actions include improvements in stormwater management, implementation of agricultural best management practices, development and implementation of county ordinances for fertilizer application and ongoing public education programs.

This effort demonstrates the commitment of the Department, the Water Management District and state and local governments to the restoration of water bodies in Florida. Many projects have begun in advance of finalizing the plan.

“The District appreciates the opportunity to be part of this TMDL and BMAP development,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Assistant Executive Director Elwin “Woody” Boynton. “We also appreciate DEP’s leadership and the support of all of the stakeholders in finalizing this important component of improving the water quality of the Middle St. Johns River, as well as to stretches of the river downstream.”

The plan was developed in partnership with the cities of DeBary, DeLand, Deltona, Lake Helen, Lake Mary, Orange City, and Sanford; Seminole County; Volusia County; Florida Department of Transportation; Florida Turnpike Authority; Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and St. Johns River Water Management District.

For more information about the Department’s water quality protection and restoration programs visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/bmap.htm.

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