Suwannee Democrat

January 16, 2014

Ichetucknee Springshed Water Quality Improvement project reaches a milestone

Submitted
Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak —

The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) is partnering with the City of Lake City and Columbia County to improve water quality by reducing Lake City’s wastewater nutrient loadings to the Ichetucknee River by an estimated 85 percent.

Referred to as the Ichetucknee Springshed Water Quality Improvement project, the project involves converting Lake City’s wastewater effluent disposal sprayfields into constructed treatment wetlands to reduce nitrogen loading. The project will also provide beneficial recharge to the Upper Floridan aquifer.

The project will assist with implementation of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Basin Management Action Plan to reduce nutrients in the Santa Fe River Basin.

The DEP is providing $3.9 million toward the $4.6 million project. The District has committed $400,000 toward the project. The City of Lake City is providing $200,000 toward the project, the land needed to build the project, and operation and maintenance. Columbia County is providing $100,000 toward the project.

“The District and our local partners are focused on completing this project to benefit the health of the river and springs,” said District Executive Director Ann Shortelle. “This project is only possible because of landmark springs funding provided by the Governor and Legislature to DEP and the District for protecting and restoring springs in Florida.”

“Both reductions in nutrient loading and restoration of flows are necessary to achieve the health of the Santa Fe Basin,” said Tom Frick, Director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. "This project will be another significant step to achieving required nutrient reductions set for this spring system by the Department in 2012 as part of the restoration plan for the Santa Fe River and its associated springs."

The District’s Governing Board on Jan. 14 entered into an interlocal agreement with Lake City and Columbia County to implement the project. The Governing Board also authorized the District to enter into a contract with the project contractor to begin execution of the project. The contractor will initiate the data collection phase of the project, followed by design of the project. Construction on the project is scheduled to begin early next year.