TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Water Management Districts have identified 40 springs projects that will receive $50 million as part of the 2017-2018 Fighting for Florida’s Future budget. The $50 million in Legacy Florida funding for springs restoration projects was included in Governor Scott’s recommended budget and approved by the Legislature during this year’s legislative session. These projects will help improve water quality, recharge water flow and protect habitat in Florida’s iconic spring systems.
Governor Scott said, “Florida is home to some of the most beautiful springs in the world, and protecting these natural treasures is incredibly important for our state’s families, environment and economy. Last year, I was proud to sign the Legacy Florida bill to establish a dedicated funding source for springs protection and I am glad that investment is continuing with $50 million for springs restoration projects across the state this year. Springs protection will remain a priority so that Florida’s future generations will continue to enjoy these unique natural treasures.”
DEP works with water management districts to identify projects that will improve the quality of Florida springs and provide a good return on investment. Many of these projects include matching funds from various local partners. Combined with match funding from Florida’s water management districts and local partners, the investment in springs projects will total more than $94 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year. Since Governor Scott took office, more than $365 million has been invested in Florida’s springs, the highest amount of funding in Florida’s history.
DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “Thanks to the continued commitment of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature in securing a dedicated funding source for springs restoration and protection, we can continue to focus on completing strategic acquisitions and projects that will produce real benefits for our spring systems. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and Legislature, the water management districts and partners in the environmental, agricultural and local communities to conserve and protect Florida’s iconic springs.”
As part of these springs projects, the state is launching three new Springs Protection Land Acquisition Initiatives, with a total of more than $6 million allocated for land acquisitions to protect Wakulla Springs, Econfina Springs and springs along the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers. An additional $2.5 million will be allocated toward a conservation easement that will ensure land protection and nutrient reduction benefits for De Leon Spring.
Senate President Joe Negron said, “Restoring and protecting Florida’s springs is essential to fully and faithfully implementing the Water and Land Conservation Amendment passed by Florida voters in 2014. Legacy Florida ensures dedicated, annual funding for this critical effort. Governor Scott has been a strong advocate for preserving Florida’s environment, particularly our Springs, and I appreciate his ongoing leadership and support of our Legacy Florida initiative.”
House Speaker Richard Corcoran said, “Our springs provide beauty, drinking water, jobs, and an identity for many communities. We will continue to fight, along with the Governor, for the protection of this distinctly Floridian natural resource.”
Other restoration and protection projects that have been identified for funding this fiscal year will enhance water quality through wastewater, stormwater and runoff pollution control projects, including septic tank conversion and agricultural partnerships. Projects to expand water reuse and improve aquifer recharge rates will also help ensure the protection of Florida’s groundwater supply.
The 40 statewide projects include:
- Southwest Florida Water Management District: Kings Bay (Citrus County) sewer extension and reuse project – This project will improve water quality in Kings Bay by supporting the construction of a sewer main extension to remove septic systems and route 2 million gallons per day of reclaimed water out of the springshed.
- Northwest Florida Water Management District: Wakulla Springs (Wakulla County) septic connection projects – These projects will improve water quality in Wakulla springs by connecting more than 370 residences currently on septic tanks to an existing central sewer service.
- St Johns River Water Management District: Silver Springs (Marion County) wetland treatment and recharge project – This project will increase the flow of Silver Springs by receiving and treating excess reclaimed water and stormwater, providing 3 to 5 million gallons per day of recharge.
- Suwannee River Water Management District: White and Blue Sink springs (Suwannee County) wastewater improvement project – This project will improve water quality for two springs along the Suwannee River by providing advanced wastewater treatment and eliminating 32 commercial septic tanks.
A complete list of the springs protection projects funded by the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget can be found HERE. These projects will be considered by the water management district Governing Boards as part of their upcoming budget hearings. More information is also available on springs projects funded during the FY 16-17 year and FY 15-16 year.