FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 31, 2012
DEP TO MAKE $1 MILLION INVESTMENT IN SILVER SPRINGS RESTORATION EFFORTS
~ DEP, Marion County and St. Johns River Water Management collectively commit $700,000 to first identified wastewater project ~
Wastewater discharge project will reduce anual discharge of nitrates into Silver River and Silver Springs by 2,000 pounds.
OCALA - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection continued its efforts to restore Silver Springs by committing $1 million to water quality improvement projects.
“In the last two years, with the support of Governor Rick Scott, Senator Charlie Dean and the rest of the Florida Legislature, we have directed $10.4 million to restoration - more than double the total amount of funding provided in the previous three fiscal years,” Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. told participants at Tuesday’s public workshop on proposed nutrient reductions for Silver Springs. “One million dollars of this is specifically allocated for projects to improve the health of Silver Springs.”
The Department, Marion County and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) have already identified the first project to benefit from this funding. It will eliminate a wastewater discharge that currently exists from the Silver Springs Regional-Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is within 1.5 miles of the main boil of Silver Springs. The project will redirect the wastewater to the Silver Springs Shores Wastewater Treatment Plant, 10 miles from the boil.
This project alone will reduce up to 2,000 pounds of nitrates annually that would have previously gone into Silver River and Springs.
The total estimated cost of the project is $700,000. The Department and Marion County will each contribute $300,000 and the SJRWMD will contribute $100,000 to the project.
“We would like to thank FDEP Secretary Vinyard and SJRWMD Executive Director Tanzler for the interest they have shown in Silver Springs," said Marion County Commissioner Stan McClain. "We look forward to continuing partnerships to improve water quality in Marion County.”
Because Silver Springs is one of the state’s critically impaired water bodies, the Department is fast-tracking restoration efforts. Rather than setting nutrient targets and then waiting for months or years to start establishing a restoration plan, both of these efforts will be performed this year in order to get restoration underway as quickly as possible for Silver Springs. For more information about future meetings, please visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/index.htm.
In addition to setting nutrient targets and establishing a restoration plan for Silver Springs, the Department is currently working to establish nutrient reduction requirements this year for other major springs such as Wakulla, Rainbow, Jackson Blue and Weeki Wachee Springs. Earlier this year the Department adopted a water quality restoration plan for the spring fed Santa Fe River, and is on track to adopt a similar restoration plan for the Wekiva Basin. The Department is kicking off restoration plans for the Wakulla and multiple springs along the Suwannee River this year as well.
The Department’s proposed nutrient reduction is the foundation for additional projects and actions resulting in water quality improvement of Silver Springs. The remaining $700,000 in Department funding will be applied to these projects.
“We are pleased to be a partner in this initiative to relocate reuse water away from Silver Springs,” said SJRWMD Executive Director Hans Tanzler. “This project will reduce nitrates within the spring and river, as well as provide alternate water supply sources for irrigation. Silver Springs and the Silver River are among Florida’s most esteemed water resource assets, and the District is committed to protecting this heritage.”