New Umatilla project protects surface waters and wetlands

MAITLAND, Fla., Dec. 5, 2016 — Work is nearly complete on upgrades to the city of Umatilla’s wastewater system, which includes about 17,500 linear feet of gravity sewer line and 65 manholes. The St. Johns River Water Management District committed $500,000 to this phase of the project, which complements other projects meant to improve the city’s wastewater infrastructure.

“Our Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) program continues to be an incredible tool for helping communities like Umatilla identify projects that will reduce impacts on local water bodies,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “As a funding partner, we’re able to help communities facilitate solution-driven projects that may not otherwise have been financially feasible.”

“The tremendous support and assistance from the St. Johns River Water Management District was instrumental in providing much needed improvements to our wastewater system. The REDI program has been a godsend for the city of Umatilla,” said City Manager Scott Blankenship. “Most federal and local grant programs require a match of funds granted. Our small community would not be able to repair and update our aging system if a matching grant was required. The REDI program along with the enthusiastic support of the districts’ Governing Board and entire staff helped mitigate an insurmountable financial challenge for our city.”

The project is part of a comprehensive repair and maintenance program that seeks to rehabilitate all of the city’s wastewater systems, bring them up to current design standards, repair structures to eliminate leaks, replace corroded piping and provide backup power for reliability. Upgrades to the system are necessary to protecting adjacent surface waters and wetlands, including reducing impacts to Lake Umatilla which is identified in the Upper Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes Basin Management Action Plan as contributing to the impaired status of Trout Lake.

Work on the project is expected to conclude by December 2016. The total construction cost is $775,000.

The funding was provided as part of the district’s REDI program, which targets projects in economically disadvantaged communities with traditional agriculture or resource-based industries and a population of 25,000 or less. For more information about the district’s cost-share program, visit