Springs Restoration Continues with $13 Million Investment in Northeast Florida

Oct. 5, 2015

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Suwannee River Water Management District have approved seven springs restoration projects in Alachua, Columbia, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee and other rural Northeast Florida counties. These projects will receive more than $8.9 million in state funding from Governor Rick Scott’s 2015-16 “Keep Florida Working” budget. This funding is expected to leverage over $4.1 million in matching funds.

These seven selected projects will benefit Convict, Ravine, Fanning and Hornsby springs, as well as the Ichetucknee, Santa Fe and Suwannee rivers and their associated springs.

“I would like to thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for providing record funding for springs restoration, and for securing the recurring funding that will allow us to continue to protect springs in the future,” said DEP Secretary Jon Steverson. “Combining efforts and resources with local governments, stakeholders and the water management districts enables us to take a more comprehensive and efficient approach to springs protection.”

The project development process is a collaborative effort among the department, water management districts, community leaders and local stakeholders. Projects are selected based on pollutant reduction, water conservation, cost effectiveness and available matching dollars.

“Together these projects will prevent nearly 57,000 pounds of nutrients from entering into our springs and save more than four million gallons of water per day,” said Suwannee River Water Management District Interim Executive Director Carlos Herd. “The Suwannee River Water Management District is extremely appreciative and grateful to Governor Scott and the Legislature for allocating for a third consecutive year funding for springs protection and restoration projects, which will have significant water-resource benefits.”

Suwannee River Water Management District projects include:

  • Convict and Ravine Springs Nutrient Treatment (Lafayette and Suwannee Counties): The project will use interceptor wells to capture high nitrate groundwater. A denitrifying system will be installed at each spring basin that will reduce nutrient loads by an estimated 4,300 pounds annually and return the groundwater at the two locations.
  • Phase III of the Fanning Springs Sewer Expansion Project (Levy County): The project will improve water quality in the Fanning Springs basin. Expanding the city’s sewer service will prevent an estimated 4,300 pounds annually of nutrients from entering into the groundwater and discharging into Fanning Springs.
  • Camp Kulaqua (Alachua County): The Hornsby Spring Water Quality Improvement Project will reduce nutrient loading to Hornsby Spring by nearly 100 pounds annually. This project will remove Camp Kulaqua’s on-site wastewater plant and effluent disposal and install a wastewater line that will take the effluent to the City of High Springs wastewater treatment plant.
  • The Ichetucknee Trace-Cannon Creek Project (Columbia County): The project is a partnership with DEP, SRWMD and Columbia County that will benefit spring flows and water quality for springs along the Ichetucknee River. This project is estimated to recharge the aquifer from 2.24 to 3.81 million gallons a day to benefit spring flows and improve water quality by removing approximately 10,000 pounds of nutrients annually.
  • GRU Reclaimed Water Project (Alachua County): This project is a partnership with Shands and Gainesville Regional Utilities to construct a recharge wetland at the new Shands facility that will remove nutrients from both reclaimed water and stormwater and will provide approximately 100,000 gallons per day of recharge to the Floridan Aquifer. This project will benefit springs in the Lower Santa Fe River Basin.
  • Improved Nutrient Application Practices in Dairy Operations (Multiple counties): The project will enable dairy operations to reduce nutrient leaching by an estimated 34,000 pounds annually while saving roughly 320,000 gallons of water per day. This will be accomplished by retrofitting irrigation systems to improve irrigation uniformity and efficiency.
  • Tailwater Recovery Project (Multiple counties): This project involves the construction of tailwater recovery ponds to capture leached irrigation and stormwater runoff that will then be reused for irrigation. This project will offset approximately 685,000 gallons per day of existing groundwater use and reduce nutrient loading.

Including these seven Suwannee River Water Management District projects, a total of 26 projects statewide have been selected to receive $41 million in state funding from Governor Rick Scott’s 2015-16 “Keep Florida Working” budget,” and are expected to leverage another $41.8 million in matching funds. This brings the total state and local investment springs projects to $189 million in the last three years.

For a list of all the approved springs projects, click HERE. To visit the department’s new interactive springs projects map, please click HERE.

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