Grant Funding to Assist DEP and Local Governments Restore Florida Waterbodies

On February 6, 2014, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has selected three projects that will benefit from more than $3 million in state grant funding to assist governments with the protection and restoration of Florida’s waterbodies. The selected projects are designed to reduce between 68 and 98 percent of phosphorus and between 20 and 95 percent of nitrogen from entering Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Lake Yale and the Orange River. Reducing excessive nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, in the lakes and rivers in these watersheds will improve the health and function of these aquatic systems.

This is part of an annual appropriation by the state legislature which provides grant funding for the implementation of best management practices, such as regional stormwater treatment facilities, designed to reduce pollutant loads to impaired waters from urban stormwater discharges.

“Partnering with local officials to address our nutrient pollution challenge is critical to achieving our cleanup goals,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “This funding allows the Department to provide local governments additional targeted financial assistance for projects to reduce nonpoint source pollution and restore our impaired waterbodies.”

Florida is a national leader in tackling the challenging problem of stormwater runoff pollution. As one of the first states in the nation to implement a stormwater management program starting in the 1970s, it is also one of the first states in the nation to add a regulatory approach to traditionally unregulated agricultural and urban stormwater sources in its restoration program.

These grant funds are designated for three watersheds that are considered a high priority for restoration. Specifically, the projects selected will continue the Department’s partnership with local efforts to restore the Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Lake Yale and the Orange River. The funds will be used to implement structures, such as stormwater ponds, and to implement best management practices to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus going into the waterbodies.

“Nothing is more important to the economy or the environmental health of this state than water quality,” said Rep. Matt Caldwell. “I am proud of the leadership of the Florida Legislature on this important issue, and the commitment the local governments are demonstrating in their partnership on these projects.”

“This is great news for Lake County and the Lake Yale watershed,” said Sen. Alan Hays. “This effort demonstrates the commitment of state and local governments and stakeholders to the restoration of their local water bodies and a testament to what can be accomplished through collaboration.

Project information can be found here.

In addition to the more than $3 million state funds, more than $6.5 million will be contributed by the communities themselves, far exceeding the 50 percent match required. The investment demonstrates local communities’ desire to improve water quality in Florida.

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