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~Grants available to assist Florida communities with water-quality improvement~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now soliciting applications for the next cycle of funding through its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Water-Quality Restoration Grant Program. Three times each year (March, July and November), DEP awards funding to local communities and water management districts to implement best management practices designed to reduce pollutant loads to impaired waters from urban stormwater discharges. The application deadline is March 1, 2016, at 5 p.m. EST for the current round of funding.

"The department is pleased to partner with local communities through grant funding to benefit water quality," said Trina Vielhauer, director of the Division of Water Restoration Assistance. "We encourage local governments to apply for funding assistance for eligible projects to improve water quality in their area."

Administered with annual appropriations from the Florida Legislature, TMDL grants focus on projects designed to restore impaired springs, rivers, lakes and estuaries, which need help meeting Florida's stringent water-quality standards. 

Applicants are eligible for the TMDL Water-Quality Restoration Grant if they meet the following criteria:

  • Project reduces stormwater pollutant loadings from urban areas that discharge to water bodies on the state's verified list of impaired waters.
  • Project is at least 60-percent designed and fully permitted.
  • Project includes storm event monitoring to determine actual load reduction.
  • Project construction will be completed within three years of appropriation of funds by the Legislature to ensure funds remain available.
  • Provide a minimum of 50 percent of the total project cost in matching funds, of which at least 25 percent is provided by the local government.
  • Project includes construction of best management practices, pollutant load reduction monitoring or public education activities specifically associated with the project.

Some examples of projects that were recently awarded TMDL grants from the November 2015 cycle include:

Brevard County: Awarded $186,691 for an underground stormwater treatment system to reduce nutrient loads and prevent untreated stormwater runoff to a 525-acre basin in north Brevard County. Currently, untreated stormwater is flowing into north Indian River Lagoon.

Martin County: Awarded $800,000 for the All American Ditch project, which will treat rainwater runoff, reducing nutrient loads of total nitorgen, total phosphorus and total suspended solids to the South Fork of the St. Lucie RiverCurrently, untreated rainwater runoff from more than 268 acres in Palm City collects in the All American Ditch and discharges directly into the river. 

Melbourne: Awarded $65,500 for Lily Park, a retention basin within a 1960s-era storm sewer system, which drains directly into the Indian River Lagoon. Best management practices will include retention, detention and a flow control device. 

The department ranks projects for funding based on the impaired status of the associated water body, the water-quality improvement benefit (the estimated pollutant load reductions the project is designed to achieve), the cost-effectiveness of the project, and the percentage of local matching funds. Another consideration is whether the applicant has a stormwater utility fee or other dedicated revenue source to continue effective stormwater management in the future.

Since 2002, the department has awarded more than $110 million in TMDL grants, including $4.6 million awarded in Fiscal Year 2014-15 and $4.1 million awarded in Fiscal Year 2015-16 thus far.

For more information on the TMDL grant program and the application process, click here.