Springs protection projects

Implementation projects to improve the health of Florida’s springs and their ecosystems are a major component of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Springs Protection Initiative. These projects support springs restoration in many ways. One of the more common types of projects involves the expanded use of reclaimed water to decrease nitrate pollution. This is accomplished by reducing or eliminating direct wastewater discharges and using this water to replace other irrigation sources, so that nutrient uptake and substantial reductions can occur in the irrigated turf or other plants. Reclaimed water projects also protect spring flows by reducing demand for surface and groundwater withdrawals.

Since 2014, 121 projects protecting spring water flow and water quality have been funded through district cost-share programs.  The district has contributed more than $48 million toward vital springs projection projects, resulting in more than 93 million gallons of alternative water supplied and 6 million gallons of water a day (mgd) conserved.  These projects also have reduced total nitrogen to priority spring systems by 1,061,181 lbs./year and total phosphorus by 169,443 lbs./year.

Project spotlight

City of Ocala Wetland Groundwater Recharge Park

The city of Ocala’s Pine Oaks Wetland Recharge Park project is a critical project for the protection of Silver Springs’ minimum flows and levels. The district partnered with the city of Ocala on the 33-acre wetland park, which is designed to treat 3 to 5 million gallons per day of stormwater and reclaimed water and recharge it into the Floridan aquifer system. This $8.4 million project will offset impacts to Silver Springs by providing 3.6 cubic feet per second increase in spring flow. The project also is estimated to reduce total nitrogen flowing into the Silver Springs springshed by 29,000 pounds per year and total phosphorous by 30,500 pounds per year.

Aerial photograph of the Ocala recharge park under construction
Volusia County advanced wastewater treatment (AWT) for the protection of Blue Spring

This Volusia County AWT project, located in the Volusia Blue springshed, has great benefits to water quality by upgrading the wastewater treatment process, adding capacity to accommodate future septic tank connection/abandonment, and eliminating the Four Towns package plant. The plant upgrade, along with the adoption of the total maximum daily load for Gemini Springs, supports restoration for Volusia Blue and Gemini springs because the added plant capacity can accommodate septic tank connections in the Gemini springshed. Nutrient reductions and reduced groundwater withdrawals help protect the springs. The project has an estimated nitrogen reduction of 27,000 pounds per year and phosphorus reduction up to 14,000 pounds per year. This project also produces an estimated 0.22 million gallons per day of reuse.

Altamonte Springs regional water reclamation facility process improvements for advanced wastewater treatment

The Altamonte Springs Regional Water Reclamation Facility (ASRWRF) is an award-winning water reclamation plant designed to provide treatment for up to 12 million gallons per day of wastewater from several municipalities. Located in central Florida, the project directly benefits the Little Wekiva River and the Wekiva River Basin in general. The project consists of treatment process improvements from secondary to advanced wastewater treatment standards and nutrient effluent concentrations to 3 milligrams per liter for total nitrogen and 1 milligram per liter for total phosphorus.

Paynes Prairie diversion structure replacement — Aquifer recharge

The district completed work in mid-2019 on a new water control structure that is key to controlling water into Paynes Prairie, which in turn affects flow into the Alachua Sink. This project includes multiple benefits, providing significant ecological benefits to the prairie, recharging the Floridan aquifer via Alachua Sink, which can increase water supplies and enhance spring flows, and offering some flood protection for U.S. 441 during major flood events. The $788,000 project replaced a failing 40-year-old structure with an operable structure, including three new 54-inch aluminum culverts, gates, concrete headwalls and upgraded guardrails, handrails and fencing.

Aerial view of the almost completed Prairie Creek Diversion Structure

Springs cost-share by the numbers:

2019 Districtwide Cost-share Program

  • 10 springs protection projects in 4 counties
  • $19.5 million in total project estimated construction costs
  • $4.9 million in district cost-share dollars
  • 4 mgd of alternative water supply
  • 33 million gallons of water a day conserved
  • Reduction of 12,590 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • Reduction of 54,832 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2019 Agricultural Cost-share Programs (includes Silver Springs Agricultural Cost-Share BMP)

  • 12 springs protection projects in 3 counties
  • $931,886 in total project costs
  • $377,508 in district cost-share dollars
  • 057 million gallons of water a day conserved
  • Reduction of 7,926 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • Reduction of 2,877 pounds of total phosphorus per year
  • 2018 Springs Septic Tank Replacement Cooperative Program
  • 1 springs protection project in 1 county
  • $220,000 total project cost
  • $55,000 in district cost-share dollars
  • Reduction of 196,000 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • There are no new Springs Septic Tank Replacement projects for 2019 or 2020

2020 Districtwide Cost-share Program

  • 5 springs protection projects in 3 counties
  • $20.5 million in total project estimated construction costs
  • $3.3 million in district cost-share dollars
  • 39 mgd of alternative water supply
  • 33 million gallons of water a day conserved There were no water conservation projects.
  • Reduction of 12,041 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • Reduction of 2,065 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2018 Districtwide Cost-share Program

  • 16 springs protection projects in 6 counties
  • $27.2 million in total project costs
  • $6 million in district cost-share dollars
  • 10.4 mgd of alternative water supply
  • 560,000 gallons of water a day conserved
  • Reduction of 31,489 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • Reduction of 30,739 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2018 Agricultural Cost-share Programs (includes Silver Springs Agricultural Cost-Share BMP)

  • 10 springs protection projects in 3 counties
  • $1.42 million in total project costs
  • $871,670 in district cost-share dollars
  • 164,000 gallons of water a day conserved
  • Reduction of 8,229 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • Reduction of 2,174 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2018 Springs Septic Tank Replacement Cooperative Program

  • 1 springs protection project in 1 county
  • $220,000 total project cost
  • $55,000 in district cost-share dollars
  • Reduction of 196,000 pounds of total nitrogen per year

2017 Districtwide Cost-share Program

  • 15 springs protection projects in eight counties
  • $29 million in total project costs
  • $7.5 million in district cost-share dollars
  • 4.5 mgd of alternative water supply
  • 129,000 gallons of water a day conserved
  • A reduction of 98,600 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • A reduction of 1,060 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2017 Agricultural Cost-share Program

  • 4 springs protection projects in two counties
  • $881,000 in total project costs
  • $660,800 in district cost-share dollars
  • 200,000 gallons of water a day conserved
  • A reduction of 1,680 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • A reduction of 350 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2017 REDI-Innovative Cost-share Program

  • 1 spring protection project in one county
  • $558,200 in total project costs
  • $500,000 in district cost-share dollars
  • 36,000 gallons of water a day conserved

2016 Agricultural Cost-share Program

  • 4 springs protection projects in two counties
  • $906,000 in total project costs
  • $662,000 in district cost-share dollars
  • 425,000 gallons of water a day conserved
  • A reduction of 1,700 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • A reduction of 600 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2016 Districtwide Cost-share Program

  • 11 springs protection projects in three counties
  • $29 million in total project costs
  • $6.6 million in district cost-share dollars
  • 21mgd of alternative water supply
  • 1.6 mgd of water conserved
  • A reduction of 88,000 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • A reduction of 17,100 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2016 REDI-Innovative Cost-share Program

  • 4 springs protection projects in three counties
  • $2.33 million in total project costs
  • $1.2 million in district cost-share dollars
  • A reduction of 1,450 pounds of total nitrogen per year
  • A reduction of 240 pounds of total phosphorus per year

2016 Springs Water Conservation Cost-share Program

  • 6 springs protection projects in two counties
  • $1.2 million in total project costs
  • $589,000 in cost-share dollars from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • 56,000 gallons of water a day conserved

2015 Districtwide Cost-share Program

  • 11 springs protection projects in six counties
  • $17.8 million in total project costs
  • $4.6 million in district cost-share dollars
  • 12.1 mgd of alternative water supply
  • A reduction of 47,600 pounds of total nitrogen per year

2015 Agricultural Cost-share Program

  • 8 springs protection projects
  • $767,250 in total project costs
  • $690,000 in district cost-share dollars
  • 103,000 gallons of water a day conserved
  • A reduction of 125,000 pounds of total nitrogen per year

2014 Districtwide Cost-share Program

  • 12 springs protection projects in five counties
  • $46 million in construction costs
  • $13 million in district cost-share dollars
  • 24.4 mgd of alternative water supply
  • 1.6 mgd of water conserved
  • A reduction of 623,000 pounds of total nitrogen per year