District cost-share programs benefit water resources, support region’s economy
April 16, 2020
I am grateful that, thanks to technology and our talented staff, we held the April meeting of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board on schedule this week through teleconference and live video stream. The need for social distancing to halt the spread of COVID-19 certainly made this meeting one for the history books as there were only nine of us, along with the Chairman, General Douglas Burnett, in the board room, which is usually pretty full. The rest of the Governing Board and members of the public participated via computer and phone. Thank you to everyone who organized, took part or offered comment as the important business of the District moved forward despite the current challenges.
In a most important move, the Governing Board approved a list of cost-share project rankings. designating grant funding to local communities and agricultural entities for projects to improve water quality, conserve water, prevent flooding and enhance natural systems, all of which support our core missions.
The Board approval covers $25.1 million in potential funding for projects falling into five different cost-share programs. The District’s cost-share programs help local communities stretch their own dollars. Since I joined the District team in fiscal year (FY) 2014–15, we have completed 269 Districtwide and REDI/Innovative cost-share program projects, with overall benefits from these projects including more than 1.6 million pounds per year reduction in total nitrogen flowing into waterways, 157.3 million gallons per day (mgd) of alternative water being made available, and 9.7 mgd of water conserved.
During our meeting this week, the Governing Board approved funding in the following categories:
Districtwide Cost-share and the Rural Economic Development Initiative/Innovative Cost-share programs
- Thirty-four projects, sharing in up to $24 million, with benefits estimated as a combined nutrient load reduction of 87,785 pounds per year of total nitrogen and nearly 8,000 pounds per year of total phosphorus, 8.7 million gallons per day of alternative water supply made available and flood protection for an estimated 375 acres.
- This includes 13 springs restoration projects benefitting Outstanding Florida Springs in the Silver, Volusia Blue, Wekiwa–Rock and Lower Santa Fe/Ichetucknee River and Springs springsheds. The projects will be submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for consideration to receive legislative funding as part of the state’s annual $50 million springs restoration program.
Tri-County Agricultural Area (TCAA) Partnership
- Five projects to share more than $700,000, conserving approximately 98.5 million gallons of water per year (mgy), reducing total nitrogen loads by 7,697 pounds per year and reducing total phosphorus loads by more than 3,000 pounds per year.
Districtwide Agricultural Cost-share Program
- Eight projects to share $363,000, conserving approximately 219 mgy, reducing total nitrogen loads by more than 5,000 pounds per year and reducing total phosphorus loads by an estimated 1,128 pounds per year.
Silver Springs Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-share Program
- Two projects sharing in $113,500, which assists farmers and growers in conserving water and reducing nutrient loading to the Silver Springs springshed.
Thank you to those throughout the communities we serve for your support of our cost-share programs. Thanks also to staff in our Bureau of Project Management and Division of Water Supply Planning and Assessment who put their significant energies into working with our District neighbors and colleagues to protect our precious water resources.