The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday it has selected nine projects that will benefit from an expected $6.14 million in federal grant money to assist with the protection and restoration of Floridas waterbodies.
The money will be used to implement projects and best management practices that reduce runoff and work to restore Floridas impaired waters.
These grants, funded through the federal Environmental Protection Agency, help pay for important projects that specifically address nonpoint source pollution. Nonpoint source pollution comes from oil, pet waste, pesticide, herbicide, fertilizer, sediment and other contaminants that end up on the ground naturally or from human activity. Rainwater picks up these contaminants as it washes over yards, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, roads and fields and deposits them into surface waters.
Grant funds are designated for nine watersheds that are considered a high priority for restoration. Specifically, the projects selected will continue the departments partnership with local efforts to restore the Indian River Lagoon, St. Lucie Estuary, Pensacola Bay, Wakulla Springs, and lakes in the Ocklawaha and Winter Haven chain of lakes.
In addition, the funds will be used to implement structures such as stormwater ponds and to best management practices in beaches and coastal areas to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus going into the waterbodies.
The state of Florida addresses stormwater head-on through the departments stormwater and water quality restoration programs, said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for water policy and ecosystem restoration. This funding allows the department to provide local governments additional targeted financial assistance for these needed projects.
According to the DEP press release, Florida is a national leader in tackling the challenging problem of nonpoint source pollution. As one of the first states in the nation to implement a stormwater management program starting in the 1970s, it is also one of the first states in the nation to directly address agricultural and urban nonpoint source in its restoration program.
Information on the projects can be found here.
"These funds create the opportunity to partner with local stakeholders to directly affect water quality in Florida, said Bartlett. The competitive funding opportunity allows communities to identify projects that are locally important to make their waterbodies better.
In addition to the federal funds, more than $8.4 million will be contributed by the communities themselves, far exceeding the 40 percent match required by the EPA. The investment demonstrates local communities desire to improve water quality in Florida. This grant funding is also used for education and other types of environmental outreach programs.