LIVE OAK, FLA., MAY 16, 2023 – The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) Governing Board this month recommended seven projects to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for Springs funding.
The seven projects – two local government projects and five projects to a non-profit organization – total $6,106,441. This funding request is part of FDEP’s Springs and Watershed Restoration program which provides funding for projects that improve the quality and quantity of the state’s water resources. FDEP works with the water management districts, local governments, and other stakeholders to identify and implement springs projects that achieve these goals.
“Florida is a great place to live and do business; because of this, the state continues to see tremendous growth,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director of the District. “With that growth comes the need to identify innovative ways to grow 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.”
- High Springs Wetlands Phase 2 – Alachua County – $3 million –This funding request with the City of High Springs is to expand the current wastewater treatment facility and complete the creation of infiltrative wetlands to benefit water quality for Poe Spring and surrounding groundwater.
“The wetlands project is very important to the city and the springshed as it will take the wastewater treatment facility’s effluent that has been treated to an advanced secondary level then provide it with final treatment or ‘polishing’ in the constructed wetlands to achieve advanced waste treatment levels before recharging the aquifer,” said Ashley Stathatos, High Springs City Manager. “The city is thankful for the District’s professional staff and Governing Board support!”
- Bobwhite Sandhill Land Acquisition – Suwannee County – $622,000 – This 622-acre conservation easement acquisition will help preserve the Troy Peacock Lafayette Blue Falmouth Springshed and benefit the Suwannee Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP). This project and funding request is with the Alachua Conservation Trust.
- Suwannee River Sandhill Land Acquisition – Suwannee County – $300,000 – This 630-acre conservation easement acquisition consists of sandhill, wetlands, and restorable uplands in the Troy Peacock Lafayette Blue Falmouth Springshed and provides high recharge to the Floridan Aquifer. This project and funding request is with the Alachua Conservation Trust.
- Lafayette Woods Land Acquisition – Lafayette County – $50,000 – This 102-acre conservation easement will allow natural system restoration of long leaf pine sandhill ecosystems and provide groundwater recharge, flood protection, and river corridor protection adjacent to Peacock Springs, Lafayette Blue, Troy Springs, and District lands. This project and funding request is with the Alachua Conservation Trust.
- Gilchrist Sandhills Land Acquisition – Gilchrist County – $200,000 – This 562-acre conservation easement in the Devil’s Ear Priority Focus Area contains protection for wetlands and sandhill uplands adjacent to Cow Creek in Gilchrist County. The project protects water quality and water supply in the region. The project and funding request is with Alachua Conservation Trust.
- Hornsby Horse Pasture Land Acquisition – Alachua County – $190,575 – This 99-acre conservation easement in the Columbia Hornsby Treehouse Priority Focus Area contains five sinks and will support aquifer recharge efforts near Mill Creek. This project and funding request is with the Alachua Conservation Trust.
“ACT is grateful for the Governing Board's support of these five significant conservation projects within the District,” said Tom Kay, ACT executive director. “These projects will conserve 2,108 acres and alleviate future significant impacts on the springs, high recharge areas, and sensitive habitat within the Suwannee and Santa Fe river basins. With this funding support, ACT and its partners will continue to relentlessly work towards the permanent protection of land in North Florida that strengthens the preservation and restoration of our cherished springs and aquifer.”
- Poe Springs Addition Land Acquisition – Alachua County – $1.6 million – Funding for this project will partially pay for the acquisition and restoration of 250 acres of uplands adjacent to Poe Springs. This funding provides a match to the Alachua County Forever Program to secure conservation land for recharge in support of the Santa Fe River Minimum Flows and Minimum Levels and the Santa Fe Basin Management Action Plan with potential for passive recreation in the future.
“Protecting land this close to Poe Springs is very important for improving water quality and for ensuring that future development does not contribute to groundwater pumping,” said Stacie Greco, Water Resources Program Manager with the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. “The partnership and support from SRWMD and the Florida DEP are a key part of protection of lands and waters in this area.”
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.
For more information about the District, visit www.MySuwanneeRiver.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.