DEP Solicits New Requests for Water Quality Restoration Grants

Three times each year, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection solicits grant applications from local governments to fund urban stormwater best management practices. The solicitation for these “TMDL Grant” applications is being released on February 12, 2014 with requests due in March.

“DEP takes advantage of every opportunity and every available dollar to improve water quality protection,” said Tom Frick, DEP Director of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “The TMDL grant program helps local governments help themselves, and every dollar that DEP invests means the local government is investing an equal amount or more in healthier water resources for Florida.”

The Department administers the grant program with annual appropriations from the Florida Legislature. Awards are targeted at projects designed to restore “impaired” springs, rivers, lakes, and estuaries—those waterbodies that do not meet Florida’s stringent water quality standards.

Last week, the Department announced that three projects had been selected from the last grant solicitation to benefit from more than $3 million in state funding. These 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.

To qualify for TMDL grant funding, the local government project must be at least 60 percent designed and fully permitted. Construction is to be completed within three years and must include storm event monitoring to determine the actual pollutant load reductions the project will accomplish. Applicants are also encouraged to include public education elements in their requests, because spreading the word on keeping pollutants out of the stormwater system is a key to success.

The Department ranks projects for funding based on the level of pollution in the associated waterbody, the estimated pollutant load reductions the project is designed to achieve, the cost-effectiveness of the project, and the percentage of local matching funds. Another important consideration is whether the applicant has a stormwater utility fee or other dedicated revenue source to continue effective stormwater management in the future. Good urban stormwater practices keeps oil, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, pet waste, and other contaminants washed by rain from yards, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, roads, and fields from contaminating surface and ground waters.

Florida has long been a national leader in tackling the challenge of stormwater management. As one of the first states in the nation to implement a statewide stormwater program starting in the 1970s, it is also one of the first states in the nation to directly address agricultural and urban stormwater management through its water quality restoration programs.

For more information on the TMDL grant program and the application process, click here. Information on the wide range of DEP’s restoration programs is available here under “Water Quality Assessment and Restoration.”

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