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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112,

DATE:             Aug. 1, 2013

TO:                 Interested Media

FROM:           DEP Press Office

RE:                 Treasure Coast Water Quality Investments

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and South Florida Water Management District have worked for decades with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on managing the release of water from Lake Okeechobee in order to balance public safety, flood control, navigation, water supply and ecological health.

The Department continues to invest money and study the science to improve water quality throughout the state. The Department has set 17 basin management action plans, or restoration plans, to restore rivers, lakes and springs. This work is being done throughout South Florida as well.

  • The Department this month announced the adoption of a restoration plan for the St. Lucie River and Estuary, with local governments already investing $230 million to address stormwater runoff, which sends nutrients into our waterways. Within the first phase of the restoration plan, 537,000 pounds per year of nitrogen and 151,000 pounds per year of phosphorus loadings will be eliminated from the St. Lucie River and Estuary Basin. Another $13 million is expected to be spent in the first phase of the restoration plan.
  • The Department adopted three restoration plans for the Indian River Lagoon in February, after determining pollutant load reduction targets based on sound science. Together, the adopted plans account for more than $300 million invested—or to be invested—in wastewater and stormwater infrastructure along with urban and agricultural best management practices. As the plans are implemented, additional projects will be developed.
  • Stakeholders in these areas already have completed or will complete hundreds of restoration projects over the next five years. The Department has directed more than $25 million towards the restoration of the Indian River Lagoon, more than $10 million since 2009. The St. Johns River and South Florida water management districts have made major investments in the health of the Indian River Lagoon, through research, monitoring and project investments. 
  • The Department in February began development of a restoration plan for Lake Okeechobee, bringing to the table key regional stakeholders and committing $4 million toward restoring the lake via the Istokpoga Marsh water quality improvement project. The Department is engaged in partnerships, planning and construction of projects to develop long-term solutions to the health of Lake Okeechobee, as it relates to the Everglades, as well as its tributaries. Completing the Department’s restoration plan will be another step toward achieving the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program’s goals, set by the Florida Legislature in 2007.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and both the South Florida and St. Johns River Water Management Districts are invested in improving the health of Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon and nearby tributaries and are working in unison to address the complex environmental issues of the area.