PALATKA, Fla., Sept. 10, 2019 — The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board Tuesday approved purchasing a 60-acre borrow pit near Volusia Blue Spring for a strategic partnership project that will allow wetland treatment and recharge to benefit the flows of Volusia Blue, one of eight Outstanding Florida Springs in the district.
“The site’s size and close proximity to Volusia Blue Spring makes this partnership project a unique fit for Volusia Blue,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Not only is this a cost-effective opportunity to work toward the goal of springs protection with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Volusia County and local municipalities, a wetland recharge park is a wonderful community asset that its neighbors can be proud of.”
Collaborative partners are Volusia County and the cities of DeLand, Deltona and Orange City, which make up the West Volusia Water Supply (WVWS) partnership, as well as the FDEP and the Florida Department of Transportation. Each of the local government partners has unanimously approved the project. FDEP Springs Restoration Grant funds — a total of $1.025 million — will be used for the acquisition of the project site and design and permitting support.
The project started with Orange City approaching district staff with a concept to eliminate a direct stormwater discharge to the St. Johns River. District staff expanded on the concept to develop the Volusia Blue Wetland Recharge Project, which has been presented locally over the past year to community leaders, environmental groups and other stakeholders, including neighbors of the site.
The project concept identifies the active borrow pit as a treatment/recharge wetland that would receive storm water from Mill Lake and reclaimed water and surface water from the WVWS partnership’s interconnected pipe system.
The project would meet all four district core missions:
- Water supply, to help ensure there are adequate potable supplies to meet projected and future water demands;
- Water quality, by treating nutrients within the constructed wetland;
- Natural systems benefits to the flow in Blue Spring, with anticipated recovery of 2 to 4 cubic feet per second of flow;
- Flood control in the Mill Lake basin.
A preliminary design report has already been completed to determine the scientific feasibility of the project. A load test will be conducted to complete the feasibility process. Should the load test not support the project moving forward, the district will not be obligated to purchase the property.
Over the last six years, the district has spent $22.1 million constructing projects identified in the 2013 Prevention and Recovery Strategy for minimum flows and levels in Volusia County. This project capitalizes on that investment.