Florida Commits More than $2.7 Million to Improve Water Quality

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Florida DEP

Article Courtesy of Florida DEP Press Office|September 23, 2014|Florida DEP| Shared as Educational Material

~DEP, SJRWMD and St. Johns County commit to reduce pollutants reaching St. Johns River~

HASTINGS – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has partnered with the St. Johns River Water Management District and St. Johns County to commit more than $2.7 million to a project to reduce nutrient pollution in runoff reaching the Lower St. Johns River. The project, known as the Master’s Tract project, includes construction of a series of water treatment mechanisms, including a wet detention pond, three forested wetland cells and two wetland flow-ways. The project treats runoff from three agricultural ditches in the Hastings area. The project is expected to significantly reduce nutrient pollution reaching Deep Creek and ultimately the St. Johns River, decreasing total phosphorous by 73 percent and total nitrogen by 66 percent.

“This project is another significant step to improve the water quality of the St. Johns River,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “The project will provide nutrient pollution reductions from nonpoint sources, and we are thankful for the environmental leadership shown by our partners at the St. Johns River Water Management District and St. Johns County.”

The project focuses on optimizing nutrient pollution removal through wet pond treatment, stormwater harvesting, infiltration canals and a variety of constructed and enhanced wetlands. Incoming flows will be routed to a wet detention stormwater pond for initial treatment and nutrient removal. Water is then routed for additional treatment to a series of constructed and planted forested wetland cells, or to one of the wetland flow-ways, to be created out of upland areas around existing canals. During the growing season, water in the treatment system may be used to irrigate adjacent agricultural fields and help to reduce withdrawals from groundwater sources.

“The outstanding partnerships that we have developed with the agricultural community and local governments in the Tri-County Agricultural Area set the stage for this collaborative approach that reduces runoff to the St. Johns River,” said Derek Busby, initiative leader for the St. Johns River Water Management District’s middle and lower basin initiative. “We look forward to moving the project forward to protect the health of the river.”

The St. Johns River has been verified as being impaired by nutrient pollution and a restoration plan was adopted in 2008. Since then, stakeholders have implemented a number of nutrient reduction projects that have resulted in significant reductions in nutrient pollution to the river. Since 2011, DEP alone has committed more than $1.7 million to restoration projects for the Lower St. Johns River Basin.

The St. Johns River is Florida’s longest river and a valuable economic resource for the state. One of the few north-flowing rivers in Florida, the St. Johns River provides navigational and recreational opportunities for citizens and habitat for native wildlife. Historic nutrient pollution unfortunately has caused an imbalance in the river’s ecology, leading to algal blooms and other complications.

For more information on the St. Johns River restoration plans, please click here.

For more information on St. Johns River restoration plans, please click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 23, 2014

CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850-245-2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us

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