Springs Restoration Continues with $31.3 Million Investment in Central Florida

Oct. 5, 2015

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and St. Johns River Florida Water Management District have approved eight springs restoration projects in Marion, Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties. These projects will receive more than $6.9 million in state funding from Governor Rick Scott’s 2015-16 “Keep Florida Working” budget. This funding is expected to leverage nearly $24.4 million in matching funds.

These eight selected projects will benefit Silver Springs, Volusia Blue Springs and the springs of the Wekiva River system.

“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 thank Governor Scott and the Legislature for supporting this funding for springs,” said Ann Shortelle, St. Johns River Water Management District executive director. “These projects are needed to help restore and protect our springs, and with this funding, together with funding from us and our local cooperators, we are delighted to see these projects move forward.”

St. Johns River Water Management District projects include:

  • Apopka Reclaimed Water Main Extension – Keene Road (Orange County): This project extends 4,400 linear feet of reclaimed water main to Ocoee-Apopka Road and 3,200 linear feet of pipe on Ocoee-Apopka Road from Keene Road to Parkstone Boulevard. The project will allow homes and common areas within Magnolia Park Estates to connect to reclaimed water. The project will reduce stress on springs of the Wekiva River system and support the implementation of minimum flows and levels (MFLs) by reducing groundwater withdrawals by approximately 6.9 million gallons per day.
  • Apopka Reclaimed Water Main Extension – Ocoee (Orange County): This project extends a reclaimed water main by 1,670 linear feet from Ocoee-Apopka Road and Keene Road and along Ocoee-Apopka Road to Alston Bay Boulevard. The project will reduce stress on the springs of the Wekiva River by reducing groundwater withdrawals by approximately 4.3 million gallons per day.
  • Apopka Reclaimed Water Main Extension – Schopke Road (Orange County): This project assists in the distribution of reclaimed water to the city’s northwest storage and recharge facility and future Golden Gem Property Facility. The project includes the installation of 5,000 linear feet of reclaimed water main, providing reclaimed water to 64 residential sites and common areas, and reducing groundwater withdrawals by approximately 929,000 gallons per day. Reducing groundwater withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer system in this area reduces stress on Wekiva River springs.
  • Land Acquisition (Marion County): The acquisition will contribute to an 8-mile buffer zone where forests capture rainwater to recharge the aquifer and augment flow in Silver Spring. The purchase will protect the headwaters of Halfmile Creek and an unnamed tributary that flow into the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers, which are designated as Outstanding Florida Waters. The tract includes 378 acres of wetlands along these two creeks. Other benefits include reducing nitrate loading into springs and rivers, allowing for hydrologic restoration that will result in water quality improvement, and creating opportunities for water storage. The property provides habitat for the Florida black bear and other wildlife, and links Indian Lake State Forest, Silver Springs State Park, the Cross Florida Greenway and district-managed lands to the Ocala National Forest. This connection increases public opportunities for outdoor recreation.
  • Volusia County Advanced Wastewater Treatment (Volusia County): This project will decommission the Four Towns wastewater treatment plant and direct wastewater to the county Southwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility, improving the level of treatment with the reduction of 27,000 pounds per year of total nitrogen and 14,000 pounds per year of total phosphorus and producing 222,000 gallons per day of reuse in the Blue Spring springshed. The project also allows for the future removal of 5,200 septic tanks, which will result in a further reduction of nutrients in the springshed. The project supports the state’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) work for Blue Spring as well as the district-approved Volusia MFL Prevention and Recovery Strategy, which will help meet future water demand and improve the ecological health of the Volusia Blue Spring system.
  • Apopka Reclamation Facility (Orange County): This project will upgrade an existing wastewater treatment plant to increase its capacity from 2.5 to 4 million gallons per day and will reduce total nitrogen by 67 percent, or 122,000 pounds annually. The project will help to expand the city’s reclaimed water system as a regionally important alternative water supply source, as well as support the state’s TMDL and BMAP work in the Wekiva River basin.
  • Longwood Florida Central Commerce Park Stormwater Pond (Seminole County): This project will improve storage and treatment of stormwater and reclaimed water by expanding a pond that will serve as an irrigation source. The project supports the implementation of MFLs in the Wekiva River springshed and will offset groundwater withdrawals by nearly 50,000 gallons per day, which will reduce pressure on the aquifer system from groundwater withdrawals. The project will also divert wastewater currently receiving secondary treatment to an advanced wastewater treatment plant, which will reduce total nitrogen by 3,200 pounds per year and total phosphorus by 830 pounds per year to the Wekiva system.
  • Winter Garden Reclaimed and Stormwater Aquifer Recharge (Orange County): This project includes the construction of stormwater and reclaimed water storage ponds at multiple sites to increase aquifer recharge and provide additional water for reuse irrigation, offsetting groundwater withdrawals by approximately 1.8 million gallons per day and supporting the implementation of MFLs in the Wekiva River basin. Also, the project will reduce pollutant loading in the Wekiva River springshed by nearly 11,000 pounds per year of total nitrogen and 2,000 pounds per year of total phosphorus, supporting the Wekiva BMAP and helping to address TMDLs.

Including these eight St. Johns 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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