Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

March 2014 SJRWMD Update

Cooperative funding fuels projects that protect Florida’s water: Funding boosts 23 regional projects

By Ed Garland, St. Johns River Water Management District

In Marion County, up to 1.5 million gallons a day of treated wastewater is discharged to a remote area where it soaks into the ground. The problem: the disposal site is near Silver Springs and contributes to high nitrogen levels and impaired water quality at the historically crystalline springs.

Soon, work will be under way to upgrade the facility so that the wastewater will be treated to “reclaimed effluent standards” before it is pumped to two golf courses where it will keep the grass lush and green while locating the reclaimed water further from the springs.

“By moving the wastewater discharges away from Silver Springs and allowing the golf course grass to absorb much of the remaining nitrogen, you’re preventing up to 40,000 pounds of nitrogen from entering the aquifer every year,” says Casey Fitzgerald, Director of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Springs Protection Initiative. “The Marion County project will also offset the current use of groundwater for irrigation of two golf courses, thereby reducing water withdrawal impacts on the aquifer and enhancing spring flow. You’re getting multiple benefits simultaneously.”

The Marion County Silver Springs Shores Reuse Project is one of 23 projects selected for funding in fiscal year 2013–2014 through the District’s cooperative funding program. The diverse array of projects includes reclaimed water and water conservation projects, springshed nutrient-reduction projects, and enhancements to wastewater treatment and water distribution systems. Three of the most significant springs in the District will directly benefit: Silver Springs, Blue Spring in Volusia County and Wekiwa Springs in Orange County.

Through cooperative funding, the District provides local governments with incentives to design, build and operate ambitious water resource protection projects that might otherwise be too costly for local partners to complete singlehandedly.

smart meter

“Smart Meter” used by Gainesville Regional Utilities.

The District received 42 cooperative funding project applications during the spring submittal period that ended May 1, 2013. The 23 projects slated for funding emerged as priority projects following an intensive and objective evaluation of each application.

This year, $60.2 million in projects in nine counties will be under way, with the District contributing $14.5 million of the total cost of the 23 selected projects.

Generally, the project applicant contributes a minimum of 60 percent of the project costs and the District provides the remaining 40 percent, including ad valorem revenue, pass-through funding provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and legislative appropriations.

Stormwater reuse and reclaimed water development are common themes in the list of projects. In Jacksonville, the District and JEA are funding two projects that will extend a reclaimed water line to Queens Harbor, a picturesque golf and yacht community bordering the Intracoastal Waterway near the beaches of Jacksonville. Total cost for the endeavor is about $411,000.

“These projects will make available 300,000 gallons a day of reclaimed water for Queens Harbor to use for irrigation, eliminating the use of potable water for irrigation,” says Carol Brown, an engineer in the District’s Water Supply Bureau. “The projects will reduce the amount of effluent discharged from the Arlington East Wastewater Treatment Plant to the St. Johns River.”

The city of Palm Coast is using the District cooperative funding program to increase production of potable water out of its water treatment plant. The plan is to install special cartridge filters and ozone treatment to supply an additional 750,000 gallons of water a day from the concentrate that is removed from raw water. Currently, the concentrate is blended with reclaimed water for irrigation or discharged to the Intracoastal Waterway. The total estimated project cost is $1.2 million, with the District funding 40 percent or about $494,880.

The easiest way to conserve water is to use water efficiently. In keeping with this philosophy, Gainesville Regional Utilities is taking an innovative approach by installing “Smart Meters” within the utility’s service area. The meters offer improved leak detection of about 100,000 gallons a day. The total estimated project cost is $100,000, with the District funding 40 percent, $40,000.


Ed Garland