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~Project helps reduce nutrients and recharge aquifer~

ribbon cutting

Pictured from left: Mary Catherine Gallagher, Special Assistant,  Office of U.S. Senator Rubio; Tonya Shays, Legislative Assistant, Office of Florida Senator Bradley; Bill Nelson, U.S. Senator; Ted Yoho, U.S. Representative; Elizabeth Porter, Florida Representative; Noah Valenstein, Executive Director, Suwannee River Water Management District; Grayson Cason, Lake City Assistant City Manager; Eugene Jefferson, Lake City Councilmember; Scarlet Frisina, Columbia County Commissioner; Bucky Nash, Columbia County Commissioner; Bob Soderholm, Park Manager, Ichetucknee State Park.

LAKE CITY, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection joined the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), Lake City, Columbia County representatives and local community leaders for a completion ceremony for the Ichetucknee Springshed Water-Quality Improvement project at Lake City's newly-constructed treated wetlands site.

"We are pleased to see important springs projects like this come to fruition," said Trina Vielhauer, director of the Division of Water Restoration Assistance. "The health of our springs and rivers is paramount and we will continue our progress to restore these vital resources." 

The SRWMD was awarded $5.4 million as part of the 2013-14 "Florida Families First" budget allocations for Florida springs projects. Almost $4 million was allocated to help complete the Ichetucknee Springshed Water-Quality Improvement project, converting a portion of Lake City's wastewater treatment plant spray fields into treatment wetlands. This project reduces nutrients entering the Ichetucknee River by up to 77,000 pounds annually and provides an estimated 1.58 million gallons of beneficial recharge to the Upper Floridan aquifer per day.

The second project being completed with this funding is the Middle Suwannee River project. More than $1.5 million was allocated to increase spring flows to the Suwannee River and add to the groundwater supplies in Lafayette and Dixie counties. The project re-establishes natural drainage patterns by constructing and modifying conveyance  structures along the southeastern margin of Mallory Swamp. This will optimize available surface water for wetland hydration and groundwater recharge, which will enhance springs restoration.

“This project would not have been possible without the partnership between the District, Governor Scott and the Legislature and our local partners,” said Noah Valenstein, executive director for the Suwannee River Water Management District. “Because of our collaboration, this project will provide 25 percent of the water needed to restore and protect the Ichetucknee River and its springs, while supporting the local economy and its citizens.” 

Continuing the state’s ongoing commitment to springs restoration, DEP and four Florida Water Management Districts have identified 35 springs projects to receive more than $56.6 million included in the 2016-17 “Florida First” budget, the highest amount ever provided for Florida’s springs. Along with $33.1 million in matching funds at the state and local levels, the total investment in springs projects will be $89.7 million for this new fiscal year. Governor Scott has provided historic funding during the past four years, which when leveraged with local funding, totals more than $275 million that directly benefits springs water quality and quantity.

Click here to see the complete story map of 2016-17 springs projects.