On De cember 9, 2022, the State of Florida announced nearly $75 million for 30 statewide restoration projects to aid the recovery of, and provide additional protection for, Florida’s springs.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and four Florida water management districts have identified a broad suite of projects that include land acquisition, septic to sewer conversion, and water quality improvement efforts intended to increase aquifer recharge, improve spring flow, and protect springs and their spring runs. A list of projects funded today can be found here.
“Florida’s world-renowned springs are important to both our economy and environment,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
“Our state is home to more large springs than any other state in the nation, and the projects announced today continue our mission to restore and protect them for current and future generations,” he added.
The selected projects reflect a collaborative effort with the DEP water management districts, community leaders, and local stakeholders.
The contributions and cooperation of these agencies and individuals have been crucial throughout the development process.
“Governor DeSantis has championed water quality across the state,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton.
“As a result, Florida is better positioned to meet its water quality challenges, including nutrients in our iconic springs. We look forward to working with our partners in the water management districts, local governments, and other community leaders to implement these projects that will augment our ongoing restoration efforts,” he continued.
Combining and leveraging resources from various agencies across Florida allows for a more efficient and comprehensive restoration effort.
“Florida’s springs are among our most precious water resources,” said Chief Science Officer Dr. Mark Rains.
“This diverse selection of projects will be complemented by existing DEP initiatives to increase facility inspections, water quality monitoring, and enforcement to restore this resource that defines our state,” he explained.
Examples of the 30 statewide springs projects include:
Northwest Florida Water Management District:
$2.5 million for the Agricultural Best Management Practices Producer Cost Share Grant Program to benefit Jackson Blue and the Chipola River Springs.
This funding will enable the district to continue its agricultural cost-share program, expanding to the Chipola groundwater contribution area and including the Jackson Basin Management Action Plan springs area.
This project will assist approximately 50 producers with retrofits and precision agricultural equipment to restore and protect springs.
“With the expansion of our cost-share program, producers in northwest Florida are able to further meet stewardship goals to help protect and preserve our springs,” said Lyle Seigler, Executive Director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District.
“The continued support from Gov. DeSantis and DEP shows protecting our precious natural resources remains a priority throughout the state,” he concluded.
Southwest Florida Water Management District:
$10 million for the South Highlands Septic to Sewer Project Design to benefit the Chassahowitzka-Homosassa springs basin.
This project is for the permitting and construction of a sanitary sewer collection system which will remove from service a minimum of 69 residential septic tanks existing in the City of Inverness south service area. Connection fees are included in the funding request. This project is Phase 1 of 5.
“Our springs are an incredible natural resource that we are committed to protecting,” said Brian Armstrong, Southwest Florida Water Management District Executive Director.
“Working together with the Governor, DEP, and our local government partners, we are making a difference in the water quality of our springs by taking septic tanks offline, which are contributing significant nitrogen pollution to the spring systems,” he continued.
St. Johns River Water Management District:
$894,500 for the Orange City Volusia Blue Spring Septic-to-Sewer Program to benefit Volusia Blue Spring.
The project includes building two lift stations with collection systems and connecting 27 septic tanks in the springshed and Priority Focus Area of Volusia Blue Spring.
This project provides water quality and water supply benefits.
“Springs are one of Florida’s greatest resources, and in addition to being essential to our environment, springs provide world class recreational opportunities to our residents and visitors,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Mike Register.
“We appreciate the support of Gov. DeSantis, along with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, for their continued focus on providing critical funding to protect our springs and water resources,” he added.
Suwannee River Water Management District:
$800,000 for the High Springs rock mine acquisition to benefit Hornsby Spring springshed. The 316.97-acre property lies just over two miles east of the Hornsby Spring spring pool. Approximately 142 acres of open water lakes have been created by the mining operation which began in the 1950s. These lakes are between 30 to 50 feet deep and intersect the Floridan Aquifer. Acquisition of this property will eliminate ongoing impacts from mining and prevent the potential impacts from development.
“As a great place to live and do business, Florida continues to see tremendous growth,” said Hugh Thomas, Suwannee River Water Management District Executive Director.
“With that growth comes the need to identify innovative ways to allow for growth while also protecting our natural resources. Funding for projects like these is beneficial to ensuring the preservation of our local springs for generations to come,” he concluded.
Since 2019, under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida has invested $275 million to protect Florida’s iconic springs.
This investment supports 118 projects with an estimated more than 599,135 pounds of Total Nitrogen (TN) reductions, per year. The projects announced today will provide an additional estimated 243,000 lbs/yr TN reduction.