FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 16, 2017
DEP PROVIDES $4 MILLION FOR
ISTOKPOGA MARSH PROJECT
BENEFITING LAKE OKEECHOBEE
~New above-ground containment system will provide water
nutrient removal and agricultural irrigation~
The Istokpoga Marsh Watershed Improvement District recently held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate this project.
SEBRING, Fla. - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection provided
$4 million to the Istokpoga Marsh Watershed Improvement District (Marsh District) for the design and construction of the first above-ground containment system in the district, which will provide water storage, nutrient removal and agricultural irrigation. The project was funded through the state's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) water-quality improvement grant program.
"We are proud to work with local communities to provide funding assistance for projects like this, which will not only capture and store stormwater, but also reduce nutrients into Lake Okeechobee, one of our state's most valuable water resources," said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystems restoration.
Recently, the Marsh District held a groundbreaking ceremony for the above-ground structure, which will provide water storage for nearly 300 million gallons of stormwater per year, and remove an estimated 1.5 tons of phosphorous per year from water flowing downstream to the Harney Pond Canal and Lake Okeechobee. Water stored in this structure will be available for irrigation use to local producers during the dry season.
Other funding partners include the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Istokpoga Marsh Watershed Improvement District and the South Florida Water Management District.
"We are grateful to DEP for these grants to help us capture, treat and use excess stormwater," said Clell J. Ford, Highlands County Parks and Natural Resources lakes manager. "This project is a win-win for everyone — local farmers, communities and the environment."
This Istokpoga Marsh water-quality improvement project is located in the Marsh District, which covers 19,420 acres in Highlands County. The Phase 1 project involves
construction of 308 acres of impoundments, consisting of approximately 2.7 miles of levee, to collect runoff irrigation water
and release it back into the district’s system of canals. Reusing
the water will satisfy irrigation demands while reducing the amount of
phosphorus entering Lake Okeechobee. Upon completion, the project is expected to reduce the annual agricultural irrigation discharge from the watershed by 60 percent and cut phosphorus loading into the lake by 70 percent.
Since 2002, the department has awarded more than $114 million in TMDL grants, including $1.4 million to date in fiscal year 2016-17.
Visit the TMDL Water-Quality Restoration Grant Program webpage for more information on the application process and qualification requirements.