Stormwater harvesting cost-share project furthers District core missions

Feb. 18, 2021

District director and board members participating in a ribbon-cutting

District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle, District Governing Board member Rob Bradley, Clay County Utility Authority’s Jeremy Johnston and CCUA Board Chair Walter Kloss (from left) participate in a ribbon-cutting Feb. 18, 2021, to kick off a new cost-share project. Dr. Shortelle was among the speakers at the event.

I was pleased to help kick off a pilot project in Clay County today that will harvest stormwater runoff from the new First Coast Expressway (Outer Beltway) as an alternative water source, benefiting the community and the St. Johns River Water Management District core missions of water supply and water quality.

It was great to be with Clay County Utility Authority (CCUA), local dignitaries and others to celebrate an “outside-the-box” alternative water supply cost-share pilot project that is important for the future of water reuse in north Florida. Clay County has been a leader in Florida’s use of reclaimed water for many years and continued to lead the way today.

For decades, Florida has captured rainwater in stormwater ponds to filter the water before it flows into a natural waterway, helping to protect water quality in our rivers and streams. In recent years, stormwater harvesting and reuse have emerged as a new field of sustainable water management throughout our state. Likewise, around the world, stormwater is now seen as an untapped water resource as water managers and local governments look for ways to replenish drinking water aquifers.

Harvesting and reusing stormwater from the First Coast Expressway can help protect drinking water supplies and potentially allow CCUA to expand the county’s use of reclaimed water for beneficial outdoor uses. The unique design of the project includes an underdrain system that collects water after it filters through the soil, which will improve the quality of the water for the public access reuse system. In addition, this pilot project will give us insight into what will make stormwater harvesting successful on a larger scale.

As two of our core missions, alternative water supply enhancement and water quality improvement are among the District’s highest priorities. We are excited to assist local government partners implement forward-thinking projects through our cooperative cost-share programs. The District and partnering local governments have funded more than 300 cost-share projects over past six years, totaling nearly $207 million in District 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.

Thank you to CCUA for its innovation and its partnership with the District to expand its reclaimed water supply, and to conserve our fresh drinking water supplies. Congratulations!

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