Wakulla, Jackson Blue, Econfina Blue springs receive restoration funding

Blue spring on Econfina Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Collaboration enables continued momentum for springs restoration<

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced a suite of 40 projects that will receive $50 million from the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget to improve water quality, reduce nutrient loading, recharge water supply and protect habitat in Florida’s iconic spring systems. This includes a state investment of more than $14 million to protect springs in Northwest Florida, including Wakulla, Jackson Blue, Econfina Blue and Horn springsheds. Combined with match funding from Florida’s water management districts and local partners, the investment in springs projects statewide will total more than $94 million during the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The project development process is a collaborative effort among the department, water management districts, community leaders and local stakeholders. Projects are selected based on pollutant reduction, water conservation, cost effectiveness and available matching dollars.

The following highlighted projects are three of the 11 selected projects for the Northwest Florida Region, benefiting Wakulla, Jackson Blue and Econfina Blue springs.

Wakulla Springs

Wakulla Septic Abatement: A total of $10 million in collaborative funding will be used for three projects to extend and increase central sewer service around the Wakulla springshed. The Northeast Lake Munson sewer system project will extend central sewer service to approximately 260 residences in South Leon County adjacent to Lake Munson currently on septic tanks, reducing the total nutrient load by 3,606 pounds per year. The Belair/Annawood sewer system project will extend central sewer service to approximately 113 residences in South Leon County currently on septic tanks, reducing the total nutrient load by 1,567 pounds per year.

Wakulla Springs Land Acquisition Project: A total of $2.4 million in collaborative funding will be used for an acquisition of lands surrounding Wakulla Springs. This acquisition will assist in the protection of karst features and future septic tank expansion to Wakulla Springs.

Jackson Blue Spring

Jackson Blue Spring Agricultural Best Management Practice Producer Cost Share Grant Program: A total of $2 million in collaborative funding will be used to continue an agricultural cost-share program to the Jackson Blue Spring basin, and assist approximately 32 producers with retrofits and precision agricultural equipment to improve water quality and quantity to protect springs in the Dougherty Karst region.

Econfina Blue Spring

Econfina Land Acquisition Project: A total of $1 million in collaborative funding will be used for an acquisition of lands surrounding the first magnitude springs along Econfina Creek, beneftting the Econfina Recharge area.

A complete list of the springs protection projects funded by the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget can be found here. These projects will be considered by the water management district Governing Boards as part of their upcoming budget hearings. More information is also available on springs projects funded during the FY 16-17 year and FY 15-16 year.

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