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Posted on: May 10, 2023

SRWMD Board recommends $119 million in Alternative Water Supply funding

LIVE OAK, FLA., MAY 10, 2023 – Five alternative water supply (AWS) projects were recommended for funding this week by the Suwannee River Water Management District (District) Governing Board. 

The five North Florida projects – one local government project and four projects by two water and wastewater authorities – will total more than $119 million if approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). 

These projects are part of an effort to reduce water use from the Floridan Aquifer and to develop region-specific water sources that offer an alternative to traditional ground and surface water sources. Alternative water sources, such as reclaimed or recycled water, saltwater or brackish water, and storm water, also help to make communities less susceptible to the effects of drought. These water sources diversify Florida’s water supply while reducing its dependence on freshwater resources.  

“Alternative water supplies are important in helping support Florida’s growth and preserving the health of our natural systems,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director of the District. “We appreciate that our Governor,  Legislature, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognize this and help advance projects like these to strengthen Florida’s water resources to continue to meet the demands of our citizens.”  

Projects include:  

  • Lake City Recharge Wetland South – City of Lake City – $11.3 million – This project, which will benefit the Floridan Aquifer, Alligator Lake outlet, and Ichetucknee Springs, would see an existing sprayfield converted into an 80-acre groundwater recharge wetland using reclaimed water.  

“I have grandkids and one great grandchild, and the last thing I want to see is for us to get to a point where there is no drinkable water,” said Paul Dyal, Lake City City Manager. “We have to start being more conscious of this – we can’t go out and turn on the spigot and waste water today. People think there’s an endless supply of water. But good drinking water? That’s another story. So anything we can do to treat the water better and get it back into our aquifer, this is a win-win for everyone.” 

  • WC3 Alternative Water Supply – Waccasassa Water and Wastewater – $36 million – This project, which would benefit the Waccasassa River and Cedar Key, would relocate the coastal water treatment plant inland to reduce saltwater intrusion and improve water quality for rural Levy County, Otter Creek, and Cedar Key.
  • WC3 Wastewater Treatment and Recharge – Waccasassa Water and Wastewater – $69 million – This project would construct a wastewater treatment facility for Cedar Key, Otter Creek, Bronson, and rural Levy County that provides beneficial recharge to the Upper Floridan aquifer. It would also benefit Levy Blue Springs, the Waccasassa River, and Cedar Key. 

“We have fantastic water in Bronson while Cedar Key does not,” said Bronson Mayor Robert C. Partin. “We’re 33 miles apart and those are our neighbors. We’re all trying to work toward the future and prepare ourselves. Bronson needs to upgrade its water and sewer systems; Cedar Key needs good water. We’ve got plenty of it, so this is a big project in our eyes.”  

  • BBWA Water System, Jena – Big Bend Water Authority – $929,232 – This project, which would benefit the Floridan Aquifer and the Steinhatchee River, would replace 5,280 linear feet of leaking pipe to conserve water loss and reduce groundwater pumping. 
  • BBWA Water System Riverside East and West – Big Bend Water Authority – $2.6 million This project would replace 9,755 linear feet of leaking pipe to conserve water loss and reduce groundwater pumping. It would benefit the Floridan Aquifer and the Steinhatchee River.  

“We couldn’t do this without the assistance of the (District), which has always been very supportive of our Steinhatchee area,” said Mark Reblin, general manager of the Big Bend Water Authority. “We’re trying to improve our water quality by improving some of these water pipelines, taking out some of this older infrastructure that was put in during the 60s, and every little bit helps. We’re like anywhere in Florida, experiencing growth. I’ve been here for 30 years and in the last four to five years, it’s accelerated. People are just moving to Florida; this is kind of like the last frontier and we want to be ready for that potential.”  

The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public. The District holds true to the belief of water for nature, water for people. Headquartered in Live Oak, Florida, the District serves 15 surrounding north-central Florida counties. 

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