St. Johns River Board OKs $8.8 M for Restoration, Reuse

The St. Johns River Water Management District's Governing Board approved spending an additional $8.8 million on projects to reduce excessive nitrogen entering the lower St. Johns River by an additional 600,000 pounds per year and to increase reclaimed water use, according to a recent press release.

The board action on Feb. 10 included distributing approximately $4 million in district funds for projects to help communities phase out wastewater discharges in the Lower St. Johns River Basin, the last 100 miles of the river, and to instead treat and divert wastewater to be used as reclaimed water. The board is headquartered in Palatka, Fla. Nearly $5 million of state legislative funds from last year's session will be used to upgrade wastewater treatment plants.

Using reclaimed water saves fresh drinkable groundwater for use in homes and businesses and can delay the need to develop alternative drinking water supplies. It also provides a safe, environmentally responsible alternative to wastewater disposal in the St. Johns River.

The board's action increases funding for projects by JEA, the cities of Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach, and the town of Orange Park. Existing cost-share agreements with JEA and the city of Jacksonville Beach will be amended, and new agreements with the city of Atlantic Beach and the town of Orange Park will be initiated.

The funding raises the amount authorized by the district since 2006 for lower basin reuse and wastewater treatment plant projects to $53.8 million. Nearly $43 million is under contract on dozens of projects to improve the river's health.

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