Springs Restoration Continues with $17.8 Million Investment in Northwest Florida

Oct. 5, 2015

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Northwest Florida Water Management District have approved six springs restoration projects in Bay, Jackson and Wakulla counties. These projects will receive more than $11.6 million in state funding from Governor Rick Scott’s 2015-16 “Keep Florida Working” budget. This funding is expected to leverage over $6.2 million in matching funds.

These six selected projects will benefit Gainer, Jackson Blue and Wakulla 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.

“We are grateful for the vision and leadership shown by Governor Scott, Secretary Steverson and the Florida Legislature,” said Brett Cyphers, executive director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District. “The funding for these projects will allow the district to continue its role in restoring and protecting Florida’s unique and priceless springs.”

Northwest Florida Water Management District projects include:

  • Bay County Land Acquisition and Restoration (Bay County): Fee-simple acquisition and floodplain restoration of approximately 3 acres along Econfina Creek, including 300 feet of floodplain habitat restoration. This acquisition will be part of the district-managed Econfina Water Management Area that helps protect the first magnitude Gainer Spring and numerous smaller springs, as well as water quality in Deer Point Lake Reservoir.
  • Land Acquisition (Jackson County): Fee-simple and/or less-than-fee acquisition and protection of approximately 598 agricultural acres within the Jackson Blue groundwater contribution area. Protection of this land will facilitate changes in agricultural practices and land use to reduce nutrient loading to Jackson Blue Spring. A second fee-simple acquisition will provide protection of approximately 394 acres adjacent to Jackson Blue Spring. Long-term preservation of property will help reduce nutrient loading to Jackson Blue Spring.
  • Agricultural BMP Producer Cost Share Program (Jackson County): Cost-share funding for agricultural best management practices within the Jackson Blue Spring contribution area to improve water-use efficiency and reduce nutrient loading. Funding will assist 32 producers in the Jackson Spring basin, bringing the total producers served up to 65.
  • Indian Springs Sewer Connection Project (Jackson County): This project will extend central sewer services to the lower Indian Springs subdivision in Jackson County, removing up to 125 homes from septic systems. The project will reduce nitrate levels in Merrit’s Mill Pond and Jackson Blue Spring.
  • Woodside Heights Sewer Connection Project (Leon County): Continuation of a project to connect up to 200 households on septic systems in the Wakulla Springs Contribution Area to the city of Tallahassee’s Advanced Wastewater Treatment central sewer system. Phase II includes design and construction to connect up to 150 additional households.
  • Magnolia Gardens and Wakulla Gardens Sewer Connection Project (Wakulla County): Continuation of a major initiative to remove existing septic systems and reduce nutrient loading to Wakulla Springs. This project will connect up to 120 homes in the Magnolia Gardens neighborhood and up to 326 homes in the Wakulla Gardens neighborhood to Wakulla County’s central sewer facility.

Including these six Northwest Florida 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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