FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 5, 2014
DEP HOLDS PUBLIC MEETING FOR UPDATE ON CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER RESTORATION PLAN
~Projects implemented during first year lay important foundation for restoration~
FORT MYERS- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection today held a public meeting to provide an update of the status of the first year of implementation of restoration plans covering Hendry Creek and Imperial River, as well as the Caloosahatchee Estuary Basin.
“Just a year ago, I was in Fort Myers to celebrate the collaborative effort between the Department and local governments to improve water quality in Southwest Florida,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “I applaud the great strides of the local governments and other stakeholders that are investing in projects to restore and protect these important waterbodies.”
Restoration plans were finalized in late 2012 in conjunction with local stakeholders, to allocate pollution reduction responsibilities of each stakeholder. This plan includes detailed lists of projects to be implemented over the first five years and outlines monitoring plans to track changes in water quality, measure success and inform future management decisions.
Over the first five year phase of the Caloosahatchee River Estuary plan, stakeholders are expected to reduce approximately 148,000 pounds per year of total nitrogen (TN). The first phase of the Hendry Creek and Imperial River plan should achieve urban load reductions of nearly 12,000 pounds of nitrogen. Local agricultural operations will also be implementing best practices for water use and nutrient management.
To achieve these reductions, the local governments have committed more than $18 million to invest in specific stormwater management and water control projects in Lee County, Fort Myers and Bonita Springs.
Highlights and accomplishments presented at today’s meeting included:
- Five completed projects In the Caloosahatchee Estuary Basin that were identified in the restoration plan to reduce 6,127 pounds of TN per year. The Department provided cost share of $440,000 toward Lee County’s Powell Creek Preserve Filter Marsh and $423,000 for Ft. Myers River Front Detention Basin.
- In the Hendry Creek and Imperial River Basins, stakeholders completed two projects and are implementing the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program to reduce 5,626 pounds of TN per year. Additionally, the Department provided $510,000 to Lee County for the Lakes Park Water Quality Improvement Project. This project is expected to reduce annual TN loads by 4,533 pounds, which is about 45 percent of the total reduction required for the entire Hendry Creek basin.
Ninety five percent of agricultural lands in the Imperial River Basin have been enrolled in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Best Management Practices Program for agricultural operations.
Other stakeholders continue to construct projects and provide education and outreach in support of allocated load reductions. One of these upcoming projects is the Aquifer Benefit and Storage project for Orange River Basin which will reduce stormwater discharges to the Caloosahatchee River.
Statewide, the Department has adopted 17 basin management action plans covering more than 6.3 million acres and designed to restore 125 water body segments. Six basin management action plans have been adopted over the past 24 months, another 10 are currently in development covering an additional 6.4 million acres and establishing water quality restoration plans for another 546 waterbody segments.
For more information about DEP’s water quality protection and restoration programs visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/bmap.htm.