DEP Secretary, Local Officials Celebrate Indian River Lagoon Water Quality Project

On February 25, 2014htv-indian-hills-release_original_crop, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. joined St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky and City of Fort Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson for the groundbreaking ceremony for the Indian Hills Recreation Area in Fort Pierce.

“The restoration and protection of Indian River Lagoon is a paramount priority of this Administration,” said Secretary Vinyard. “Projects like these require partnership and it is important take advantage of the existing momentum and energy at the local level. The Department is proud to be part of this collaborative effort.”

This new recreation and stormwater treatment project will provide future water quality benefits for the Indian River Lagoon, while at the same time adding additional passive recreational opportunities.

The first phase of the project, which is expected to take 12 months to construct, includes the expansion of the existing stormwater retention area. In addition to increasing the capacity of water stored there, the system will also use Alum, an inorganic chemical, along with floating vegetative mats to provide additional treatment of the stormwater and reduce nutrients. Future improvements will include hiking trails and passive recreational opportunities around the lake.

With more than $4.2 million in grants from the state, including more than $1.4 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Indian Hills Recreation project is a collaborative effort, also including Florida Communities Trust, St. Lucie County, the City of Fort Pierce and the South Florida Water Management District.

Funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection included state dollars and funds provided from a United States Environmental Protection Agency grant. These grants help fund important projects that specifically address nonpoint source pollution. Nonpoint source pollution comes from oil, pet waste, pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer, sediment and other contaminants that end up on the ground naturally or from human activity. Rainwater picks up these contaminants as it washes over yards, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, roads and fields and deposits them into surface waters.

In addition, the 64-acre parcel where this project will be located was purchased in 2008 for $4.4 million. Florida Communities Trust provided $3.3 million in funding for this acquisition.

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