May 23, 2014
The Department of Environmental Protection has committed approximately $1.8 million dollars for stormwater system improvement projects to reduce the nutrient pollution reaching Pensacola Bay. Projects include the retrofitting of an existing pond to improve pollutant removal efficiency, construction of a new stormwater retention pond and the installation of a stormwater informational kiosk at Pensacola Bay Bluffs Park. The city is matching the grant funds with almost $1.25 million. The proposed projects are expected to substantially reduce pollutant loads for total nitrogen and total phosphorous, by 58 percent and 72 percent respectively.
“I commend the City of Pensacola for being proactive in their response to water quality restoration, an increasingly critical issue,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “It is a priority for DEP to cooperate with municipalities who are environmental leaders and combine resources to more effectively restore Florida’s valuable water bodies.”
The project, which is located in the Scenic Heights area in Northeast Pensacola, includes modifications to the existing pond at the intersection of Langley Avenue and Scenic Highway U.S. 90. Water from Langley Pond to Pensacola Bay will be blocked and diverted under Langley Avenue into the Gaberonne Swamp system to allow for greater treatment and residence time before discharge into Pensacola Bay. Plans also include construction of a new stormwater retention pond off Spanish Trail to improve the water quality of untreated stormwater runoff before it is discharged into Gaberonne Swamp.
“Since I took office, investing in infrastructure and safeguarding our environment have been top priorities, and I’ve aggressively sought grant funding for these projects,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward. “By partnering with DEP, we’re able once again to do more with less and further improve water quality in Pensacola Bay.”
The City of Pensacola is one of the oldest cities in the state of Florida, with a history of urban settlement dating back 300 years. In this coastal community, tropical storms, hurricanes and even sub-tropical systems have periodically reminded residents of the critical need to manage large volumes of runoff generated in short time periods. Urbanization has put substantial pressure on both the natural and man-made hydrologic systems to accommodate increasing amounts of runoff carrying ever more complex pollutants. Improving stormwater management is a priority for both the City Council and city staff.
Florida has historically been at the forefront of the nation in addressing stormwater management. Florida was one of the first states in the nation to implement a statewide stormwater program, and also one of the first to address agricultural and urban stormwater management through its water quality restoration program.