For Immediate Release: Oct. 18, 2011
Contact: Dee Ann Miller, (850) 245-2112 or (850) 519-2898
DEP CELEBRATES FINALIZED BAYOU CHICO RESTORATION PLAN
~DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. joins local, regional stakeholders to commemorate significant achievement~
The City of Pensacola’s Sanders Beach Community Center, where the signing event was held today, is located on Pensacola Bay, which is a receiving water body of Bayou Chico.
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. today joined Escambia County Commissioner Grover C. Robinson, IV, City of Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and other stakeholders to celebrate the adoption of the Bayou Chico Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) at a ceremony held at the Sanders Beach – Corinne Jones Community Facility in Pensacola. The water quality restoration plan, developed in partnership with the City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Emerald Coast Utility Authority (ECUA), Escambia County Health Department (ECHD), Florida Department of Transportation, Bayou Chico Association, U.S. Naval Air Station, University of West Florida and the Bay Area Resources Council identifies actions to decrease fecal coliform bacteria in six waterbody segments within the Bayou Chico watershed.
“One of DEP’s top priorities is getting Florida’s water right, which includes both ensuring an adequate supply and improving the quality of our water,” said Secretary Vinyard. “I am proud to join today with the local governments and stakeholders who worked with us to create this water quality improvement plan. The entire Pensacola region should celebrate this achievement. DEP looks forward to continuing this partnership as we take immediate action to improve the water quality of this important watershed.”
The waterbodies addressed by this Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) consist of Bayou Chico, which discharges directly to Pensacola Bay, and the Jones Creek, Jackson Creek, Bayou Chico Drain, Bayou Chico Beach (at Lakewood Park) and Sanders Beach waterbody segments. Water quality restoration targets, called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), were adopted by DEP for the six water bodies. The TMDLs establish the amount of bacteria that needs to be reduced to restore the beneficial uses of these water bodies. The TMDLs require reductions in fecal coliform bacteria of 61 percent in order to meet water quality standards.
The BMAP lists the steps that must be taken to reduce bacteria, a schedule for their implementation, and potential resources to accomplish the reductions.
"Protecting and restoring our waterways is a key issue for my administration," said City of Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. "Secretary Vinyard has been a good friend to Pensacola and a great help to me as Mayor. I appreciate DEP's work to put this plan in place and I look forward to a cleaner, healthier Bayou Chico."
The Bayou Chico BMAP was developed under DEP’s comprehensive approach to identify polluted waterways and build partnerships with local, regional and state interests to return the water bodies to a healthy condition. Through its science-based program, DEP determined that the Bayou Chico watershed was not meeting Florida’s water quality standards and, therefore, established restoration targets and worked in collaboration with local stakeholders to create the BMAP. The local stakeholders identified more than 50 projects to achieve restoration in these water bodies and have committed to monitoring to ensure restoration occurs and to identify additional fecal coliform sources.
“Escambia County has taken Bayou Chico’s historical water quality issues very seriously. Water quality monitoring has shown that the highest fecal coliform levels are at the mouths of the three main tributaries to the bayou – Jones Creek, Jackson Creek, and Maggie’s Ditch,” said Taylor “Chips” Kirschenfeld, Escambia County Water Quality & Land Management Division. “Therefore, we have focused our efforts on improving water quality in the tributaries by restoring wetlands, restoring stream channels, restoring floodplains, reducing stormwater impacts, and installing educational signage to increase the public’s awareness of how they can help reduce pollution. The good news is that recent monitoring shows that water quality is slowly improving.”
Examples of significant project commitments include the following:
· Emerald Coast Utility Authority (ECUA) – Sewer Expansion Programs - ECUA has an ongoing capital improvement program focusing on the phase out and elimination of poorly operating or failed septic tanks through the expansion of the ECUA wastewater collection system. The priority areas targeted for this program are typically located close to surface water or public drinking water wells, or where the operation of septic tanks has caused health concerns. The program includes financial incentives to encourage connection to the sewer system. In addition, ECUA waives the wastewater capacity impact fee for all connections in the project areas that are completed within 365 days of notice of availability of the system.
· Lift Station Upgrades and Emergency Power Generation Program – ECUA also upgraded a number of lift stations throughout its service area and has installed emergency power generators at the new Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) and the existing Main Street WWTP to address the release of untreated sewage caused by power failures—another potential source problem that can be posed during heavy storm events, including hurricanes.
· MS4 Capital and Drainage System Repair Projects – Between 1999 to present, Escambia County and the City of Pensacola have completed numerous new capital improvement projects in the Bayou Chico watershed at a cost of over $10 million. This does not include the estimated $3,390,900 of HUD/CDBG funds that Escambia County secured in 2010 to complete ECUA’s Lakewood Park sewer expansion projects (Phases IV and V, and part of Phase VI). In addition, Escambia County completed and is continuing to monitor the Jones Creek Restoration Projects, which include natural stream channel restoration, associated sediment and erosion controls, and floodplain and wetland restoration/preservation, as well as the Jackson Lakes and Glynn Key Stormwater Projects in the watershed.
· Bayou Chico Association and Marina Owners, Pump Outs in Florida – Currently three pump-out stations are available in local marinas in the Bayou Chico watershed, including one mobile unit that can be transported to any boater who requests the service. Recent upgrades and capacity to handle more sewage were added to this mobile unit.
Clean Marina and Clean Boatyard Program Establishment – There are currently ten public marinas and one private marina (Pensacola Yacht Club) in the Bayou Chico watershed. Four of the ten public marinas have so far been awarded Clean Marina and/or Clean Boatyard status, and one private marina is pending Clean Marina status.
“The BMAP process allows us to identify the water quality improvement projects being conducted by all of the stakeholders on Bayou Chico. As part of the BMAP process measurement of the water quality over the next few years will show the effectiveness of our efforts and allow for adjustments in the plan to better utilize the resources that are available for water quality projects,” said John H. Naybor, President of the Bayou Chico Association and Chairman of the Florida Clean Boating Partnership. “The Bayou Chico Association has been working towards a cleaner Bayou for many years but this plan finally allows us to see the efforts of every group, reduce any redundant efforts, and track the results of these efforts in order to maximize our overall results.”
Proposed actions include improvements in stormwater management, implementation of corrective actions for sewer system failures, removal of failing septic tanks, field investigations to better identify and mitigate pollutant sources and ongoing public education programs. The stakeholders have already implemented many of these actions and the remaining projects will be in place within the next five years.