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February 16, 2015
Cost-share applications accepted until March 13
The St. Johns River Water Management District is accepting applications until March 13, 2015, for cost-share projects that conserve water, contribute to developing alternative water supplies and sources, or improve surface water quality.
The District has earmarked $15 million for water conservation and construction cost-share projects and anticipates making the funding available in the fiscal year 2015–2016 budget.
The benefits of funded projects must be directed to one or more District strategic priority. These include projects to clean up waterways and provide for enhanced water supplies with a focus on water conservation. Projects selected will provide the most cost-effective and beneficial water resource results and must be complete within two years of the availability of funds.
Application instructions, guidelines, form, evaluation process and a contract template are available on the cost-share pages on the District’s website. Complete applications must be emailed by 5 p.m. on March 13, 2015, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 13, 2015
District partners with Vero Beach to improve lagoon water quality
The St. Johns River Water Management District is partnering with the city of Vero Beach on a project to help improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon.
The Vero Beach Hybrid Septic Tank Effluent Pumping System (STEP) project will reduce nutrients flowing to the lagoon. The STEP project will divert septic system effluent, currently entering the groundwater along the Indian River Lagoon, to a central facility for treatment, preventing up to 40,500 pounds of nutrients per year from entering the groundwater. By reducing septic effluent and associated nutrients from entering the groundwater, less nutrients flow to the lagoon from septic systems near the shallow estuary.
The project will save residents thousands of dollars by connecting their septic tanks to a central sewer system, as compared to the costs of traditional septic to sewer conversion projects. Residents will be allowed to keep their septic drainfields in place in the event of temporary power outages that would impact the STEP pumping system.
“Vero Beach has for years been interested in promoting and improving water conditions in the lagoon,” said Vero Beach Vice Mayor Jay Kramer. “However, when it came time to look at the costs of removing septic systems from the river, the community was concerned about the high costs. The STEP system really saved us; we can now be environmentally active while keeping the costs down for the community.”
“Reducing nutrient inputs from all sources is critical to the recovery and future health of the Indian River Lagoon,” said William Tredik, leader of the District’s Indian River Lagoon Protection Initiative. “Groundwater is continually entering the lagoon. Improvements that reduce the flow of nutrients to the lagoon from groundwater are an important part of the overall solution.”
The total cost of the project will be $885,000, with the District providing $292,050 of that funding.
February 10, 2015
Strategy being developed to protect Silver Springs and ensure adequate water supplies
The St. Johns River Water Management District is developing a prevention and recovery strategy to avoid or offset unacceptable impacts to Silver Springs that are caused by consumptive uses of water.
In a presentation on Feb. 10, 2015, to the District’s Governing Board, staff outlined potential components of a strategy that includes water conservation, projects and regulatory options to achieve proposed minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for Silver Springs.
MFLs are the minimum water flows and/or levels adopted by the District’s Governing Board as necessary to prevent significant harm to the water resources or ecology of an area resulting from permitted water withdrawals.
When it is determined that an MFL is not being met, or will likely not be met in the future due to water withdrawals, prevention and recovery strategies are developed and implemented to ensure that water level and/or flow conditions will not be below their established MFL levels. A water body is considered to be in prevention status if its flow conditions will be below its MFL levels within 20 years. Systems that are already below their MFLs are considered to be in recovery status.
“One of our core missions is to ensure sufficient water for users and the environment,” said Governing Board Vice Chairman Fred N. Roberts, Jr., of Ocala. “This strategy is being drafted to address environmental concerns relating to impacts of groundwater withdrawals on Silver Springs, while also ensuring that sufficient water is available for existing and new users.”
The draft strategy focuses on recovery of flow at Silver Springs, which will help ensure downstream MFLs are met. The strategy would be implemented using a phased approach, with monitoring and revisions as needed. The components include:
- Enhancing water conservation by all user groups, including potential District cost-sharing for new conservation projects
- Additional reclaimed water projects for irrigation by Marion County and the cities of Ocala and Belleview, including District cost-sharing for new projects
- Optimization/relocation of wellfields and conversion of some withdrawals for public supply to the Lower Floridan aquifer
- Production of alternative water supply for potable use
- Upper Floridan aquifer recharge near Silver Springs
- Working with permit applicants to avoid adverse impacts to Silver Springs
Central to the draft strategy is an aquifer recharge project that would significantly improve spring flows for Silver Springs. The project would include a wetland treatment system to purify water before recharge. Expected sources of water for the recharge project include reclaimed water, storm water and surface water when available from the Ocklawaha River.
In a related matter, the Board approved a land exchange that will allow the District to acquire 1,041 acres of the Halfmile Creek property and Ocklawaha River Tract in Marion County in exchange for $1 million and 625 acres of the District-owned Bear Track Bay property, in which the District will retain a conservation easement. The Halfmile Creek property is a potential site for the recharge project as it is located within the Silver Springs springshed and is 1.2 miles from the main vent at Silver Springs.
“Treating and recycling water from the Ocklawaha River through the spring and returning it to the river is a unique approach,” said Roberts. “We can offset impacts of water withdrawals by creating an underground bubble of water that protects Silver Springs.”
The next steps include finalizing the draft prevention and recovery strategy, engaging stakeholders and the public in review and comment, and completing peer review and the rule-making process.