$7M approved for 12 Florida restoration projects

Aligned with priority recommendations from the multi-agency St. Lucie River Issues Team, the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board approved $7 million in fiscal year '08 funding for 12 projects benefiting the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. The projects range from stormwater retrofits and baffle box installations to educational exhibits and tributary monitoring. The St. Lucie River Issues Team comprises representatives of 17 different agencies and organizations...

• Projects match priority recommendations from St. Lucie River Issues Team

STUART, FL, Dec. 20, 2007 -- Aligned with priority recommendations from the multi-agency St. Lucie River Issues Team, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board approved $7 million in fiscal year '08 funding for 12 projects benefiting the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. The projects range from stormwater retrofits and baffle box installations to educational exhibits and tributary monitoring.

"Every project recommended by the St. Lucie River Issues Team is an important one, and I am pleased we can support these critical local initiatives," said SFWMD Governing Board member Melissa Meeker. "Each of the projects directly benefits the health and well-being of two of South Florida's most important water bodies -- the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Estuary."

The St. Lucie River Issues Team comprises representatives of 17 different agencies and organizations. The members work together to prioritize issues, procure federal and state funding and implement projects that will have quantifiable benefits to the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon.

Projects approved for funding include:
• All American Boulevard Ditch Stormwater Quality Retrofit ($650,000), sponsored by Martin County and located in Palm City to benefit the St. Lucie River Estuary
• Martin County Baffle Boxes ($187,000), sponsored by Martin County to install 25 second-generation nutrient separating baffle boxes along Indian River Drive in Jensen Beach
• Danforth Creek Water Quality Retrofit ($1,000,000), sponsored by Martin County to construct a Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) in a vacant property along Danforth Creek so that stormwater from the adjacent development is treated before being discharged into Danforth Creek
• Indian River Estates Stormwater Improvements ($500,000), sponsored by St. Lucie County for drainage improvements to enhance flood control and water quality into the Savannas State Reserve
• Jensen Beach Stormwater Retrofit ($275,000), sponsored by Martin County to implement stormwater retrofit for capturing pollutants along Indian River Drive in Jensen Beach
• Manatee Pocket Dredging Project ($1,300,000), sponsored by Martin County to improve the water quality of the Pocket by dredging a navigation channel, removing accumulated muck and adding signage and buoys
• Moore's Creek Retrofit ($900,000), sponsored by the City of Fort Pierce to provide water quality benefits to the Indian River Lagoon, including the installation of structures, modifications of the creek's cross-sections, littoral shelf plantings and relocation of the roadway
• St. Lucie Fish Health as Index of Environmental Quality ($285,000), sponsored by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to explore potential cause-effect relationships between local sources of toxicity and abnormalities in young fish and use the results to set performance measures in restoration efforts
• Old Palm City Water Quality Retrofit ($244,500), sponsored by Martin County to provide stormwater quality treatment to a basin area of 107 acres within a portion of the Old Palm City
• Paradise Park Stormwater Improvements ($500,000), sponsored by St. Lucie County to construct conveyance and treatment facilities for stormwater runoff from the Paradise Park Subdivision, which ultimately discharges into the Indian River Lagoon
• Tropical Farms/Roebuck Creek Water Quality Retrofit ($500,000), sponsored by Martin County to divert water from older subdivisions into a stormwater treatment area and then discharge it back into Roebuck Creek prior to outfall into the St. Lucie Estuary
• Leilani Heights/Warner Creek Stormwater Quality Retrofit ($704,375), sponsored by Martin County to construct baffle boxes and exfiltration systems within the existing residential developments where no stormwater quality treatment is provided within the Warner Creek Basin

The goal of the St. Lucie River Issues Team program is to better the environment through small projects that help clean Treasure Coast waterways while complementing the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Since the program's inception, more than 100 individual projects have been funded in Martin and St. Lucie counties. Some of the program's accomplishments include:
• Restoration of 4,671 acres of critical habitat and 3,920 acres of wetlands and environmentally sensitive lands;
• Installation of 163 baffle boxes that annually capture 67 tons of sediment in Martin County and 700 cubic yards of debris in Port St. Lucie;
• Conversion of 4,692 acres of flood-irrigated citrus fields into spray jet systems, reducing runoff to the estuary and lagoon; and
• Construction of water quality treatment facilities for 64,090 acres of developed land.

Funding comes from the Florida Legislature and federal sources, with a 50-percent match from each project's local sponsor. In the past ten years, more than $126 million has been approved and funded through the initiative, providing water quality improvements and habitat restoration for the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon. The South Florida Water Management District, specifically the Martin/St. Lucie Service Center, serves as the administrator of the funding.

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state -- 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys.

###

More in Environmental