Message from Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle

Celebrating another partnership to improve our region’s water quality

Dec. 3, 2020

Susan Dolan speaking at a podium

District Governing Board Secretary Susan Dolan (at podium) and District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle were among speakers at the Dec. 3 groundbreaking celebration in Leesburg.

This morning, St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Secretary Susie Dolan and I helped kick off a partnership project in the city of Leesburg that will provide water quality benefits for the area, fulfilling one of our core missions. We were honored to join in the groundbreaking ceremony as city leaders launched a project to upgrade and expand their wastewater treatment plant, improvements which will provide benefits for Lake Harris, Little Lake Harris and the Okahumpka Swamp.

As a part of our cost-share program, the District is contributing $1.4 million toward the $21 million water quality improvement and wastewater treatment facility expansion of the Turnpike Wastewater Treatment Facility. The upgrades will increase Leesburg’s wastewater treatment capacity from its currently permitted 3 million gallons per day to 4.5 million gallons per day and will improve the water quality treatment processes, all of which ultimately benefit local waterways. Working with committed partners such as the city of Leesburg, projects like this will help us realize our shared goals of protecting water quality, saving water through water conservation and maximizing the use of reclaimed water and other alternative water supply sources.

Our priority for this project is reducing nutrient loading to Lake Harris, Little Lake Harris and the Okahumpka Swamp, which are within the boundaries of the Upper Ocklawaha Basin Management Action Plan. This project is estimated to result in nutrient load reductions of approximately 18,265 lbs./yr. total nitrogen to Okahumpka Swamp, Lake Harris and Little Lake Harris. We congratulate the city of Leesburg for making significant progress in meeting its obligations under its Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) by completing the majority — five so far — of its seven project commitments for restoration of the lakes.

Today’s celebration is just one example of how we are working with local partners to benefit our water resources. The District and partnering local governments have funded more than 300 cost-share projects over the past six years, with a total investment of nearly $207 million in District cost-share and Rural Economic Development Initiative cost-share dollars. Combined, the projects have reduced total nitrogen entering Florida’s waterways by approximately 1.7 million pounds per year and total phosphorus by nearly 303,000 pounds per year and provided an estimated 173 million gallons per day of alternative water supplies.

We appreciate Leesburg’s dedication to water quality protection and investment, and we are pleased to be a partner. Thank you for your vision and hard work to get this important project underway!

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