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~Partnership results in stormwater system improvement projects to substantially reduce pollutants reaching Little Wekiva River~

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS – Today state and local partners gathered for a groundbreaking celebration to introduce A-FIRST, an innovative water preservation initiative, which is expected to significantly help improve water quality, help the region reuse reclaimed water more efficiently and save the state an estimated $15 million. The project will also create an estimated 4.5 million gallon per day (MGD) alternative supply of reclaimed water.

Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett said, “The innovative approach to stormwater management taken by the City of Altamonte Springs, DOT and DEP should cause many folks to say ‘why didn’t we think of this sooner?’ What a great example of new ways to deal with old problems. Not only will these improvements generate a more sustainable water supply, but the projects will also have a substantial impact on the nutrient pollution reaching the Little Wekiva River.”

The Department of Environmental Protection has partnered with the Department of Transportation, St. Johns River Water Management District and the City of Altamonte Springs to fund $12.5 million in stormwater system improvement projects intended to reduce the amount of pollutants reaching the Little Wekiva River and provide groundwater recharge for the Floridan aquifer, a principal source of water supply in most of north and central Florida. The project, conceived and being implemented by the City of Altamonte Springs, includes the construction of a new stormwater treatment facility, and the redirection of approximately 4.5 MGD of stormwater and reclaimed water to Apopka for storage, use or to provide recharge for the Floridan Aquifer, a principal source of water supply in most of north and central Florida. The Department of Transportation is contributing $4.5 million, St. Johns River Water Management District is contributing $3.5 million, DEP is contributing $1.5 million and the City of Altamonte Springs is matching grant funds at $3 million. The improvements are expected to substantially reduce the future pollutant loads for total nitrogen and total phosphorous, by 98 percent and 99 percent respectively.

DOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said, “A-FIRST is forward thinking approach and addresses a broad range of issues important to Florida’s families. This approach turns an infrastructure project into an environmental stewardship project. It’s an honor to take part in the celebration today, which literally breaks new ground.”

The project will collect, treat and reuse approximately 1.5 MGD of stormwater generated from Cranes Roost and from areas associated with the I-4 widening project. This stormwater will be treated at the stormwater treatment plant constructed under this project and used to augment the Altamonte Springs reclaimed water supply. Excess reclaimed water can be redirected to the City of Apopka through a new transmission pipeline to help meet their water supply needs.

“We are pleased to be a part of this innovative project that provides water quality and water quantity benefits for the urbanized I-4 corridor,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Hans G. Tanzler III. “Capturing stormwater from major road projects and augmenting reclaimed water systems is the kind of creative thinking that is necessary to meet our future water supply needs.”

As much as an additional 3 MGD of reclaimed water from the Altamonte Springs Regional Water Reclamation Facility will be transmitted to Apopka rather than discharged to Little Wekiva River, extensively reducing the pollutant contribution to the water body. The increased supply of reclaimed water for Altamonte Springs and Apopka will reduce the need for groundwater pumping by both cities.

“Our partnership with DEP, DOT and the SJWMD results in a significant nutrient loading reduction in the Little Wekiva River and demonstrates that innovative alternative water supply projects can work both economically and environmentally,” said Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz. “We appreciate having partners who are willing to seek innovative solutions.”

Florida has historically been at the forefront of the nation in addressing stormwater management. Florida was one of the first states in the nation to implement a statewide stormwater program, and also one of the first to address agricultural and urban stormwater management through its water quality restoration program.

Florida, and particularly the City of Altamonte Springs, has been one of the nation’s leaders in the use of reclaimed water for beneficial purposes. The city’s Project APRICOT, developed in the late 1980s, is one of the first projects to use reclaimed water city-wide for residential landscape irrigation and has been a model for other similar projects nationwide. The A-FIRST Project continues that tradition for the state and the City of Altamonte Springs.