District Consolidated Annual Report highlights water resource protection progress

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Report is available online at www.sjrwmd.com

APOPKA, Feb. 9, 2021 — An annual progress report on the St. Johns River Water Management District’s water resource management and protection initiatives was approved by its Governing Board on Tuesday. The 2021 Consolidated Annual Report (CAR) highlights the District’s 2019-2020 achievements, which include:

  • Providing more than $23 million in District funds for water quality improvement cost-share projects, resulting in estimated total nitrogen nutrient load reductions of 105,000 pounds per year, a one-time total nitrogen load reduction of 189,000 pounds (muck removal project), estimated total phosphorus nutrient load reductions of more than 21,500 pounds per year, and an estimated one-time total phosphorus load reduction of nearly 115,800 pounds (muck removal project). The total project costs exceeded $73 million.
  • Harvesting 941,000 pounds of gizzard shad from Lake Apopka, removing 7,528 pounds of phosphorus.
  • Initiating a pay-for-performance project to remove phosphorus from Lake Apopka’s water. The facility completed construction in FY 2019-20 and began operations, with expectations to begin operating at full capacity in early 2021.
  • Increasing submerged aquatic vegetation coverage in Lake Apopka from 109 acres in 2018 to 202 acres in 2019. To expedite vegetation recovery, 9,920 individual plants (2.01 acres) were planted in FY 2019–20. Also, thousands of emergent plants were planted, which reduce wave action and suspended sediments in the lake.
  • Funding a top-ranked project benefitting the Indian River Lagoon, arguably the District’s most fragile waterbody. The Crane Creek M-1 Canal Flow Restoration will reduce nutrient loading to the IRL by redirecting flows to a treatment pond prior to flowing into the headwaters of the St. Johns River. This project will eliminate approximately 7 mgd of base flow of freshwater to the IRL, reducing nitrogen loads by 24,000 pounds per year and 3,100 pounds of phosphorus annually.
  • Initiating a full-scale demonstration project to remove phosphorus from wastewater effluent, benefitting the Doctors Lake watershed in Clay County. The treatment is under way and anticipated to remove an estimated 6,500 pounds of total phosphorus per year.
  • Funding 12 springs protection projects, resulting in an estimated total nitrogen load reduction of 22,655 pounds per year and a groundwater offset of 7.7 million gallons per day (mgd).
  • Collecting and processing 5,865 water quality surface and groundwater samples, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Flood protection milestones included six miles of reconstruction to the L-75 levee in the Upper St. Johns River Basin and improvements to structures S-161 and S-161A on the L-73 levee to eliminate erosion, sloughing and promote flow.
  • Improving or refurbishing 10 miles of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, which was visited by nearly 200,000 people last year; six miles of Fellsmere Grade; and the newly opened Fellsmere Water Management Area.
  • Finalizing and receiving Governing Board approval for the Central Florida Water Initiative Regional Water Supply Plan. The plan was finalized and approved by all three water management districts’ governing boards in November 2020.
  • Receiving Board approval of the Draft 2020 Minimum Flows and Levels Priority List and Schedule in October 2020, which was then approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in December. The District plans to adopt MFLs for a total of 15 systems through 2024.
  • Completing 17 projects listed in the District’s Annual Five-Year Water Resource Development Work Program. The total estimated water made available through these projects is 8.3 mgd.
  • Initiating water conservation strategies, along with local stakeholder that helped to reduce residential per capita water use from 103 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) in 2010 to 85 GPCD in 2019.
  • Funding $2.6 million in agricultural cost-share projects to increase irrigation efficiency for about 3,660 agricultural acres. These projects have reduced overall groundwater consumption for these acres by 1.7 mgd.
  • Achieving more than 27,000 acres of invasive plant control.
  • Conducting 61 prescried burns on more than 16,000 acres on 21 District properties, again, despite the challenges of COVID-19.

The 2021 CAR combines nine legislatively mandated reports on the status of water resources in the District over the previous fiscal year, FY 2019-2020. Reports include the Annual Five-Year Capital Improvements Plan, Annual Five-Year Water Resource Development Work Program, Alternative Water Supplies Annual Report, Florida Forever Work Plan Annual Update, Mitigation Donation Annual Report, Annual Water Quality and Quantity Grading Report, and the 2021-25 Strategic Plan.

The CAR is available online at www.sjrwmd.com/static/plans/2021-Draft-SJRWMD-Consolidated-Annual-Report.pdf. The CAR is submitted annually by March 1 to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Governor’s Office, the president of the Florida Senate, and the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.