Here’s what we’re doing in Orange County

Rock Spring Run
Rock Spring Run is found in Orange County.

The work of the St. Johns River Water Management District is all about water. Our staff work each day on your behalf to protect water. This work is focused on four core missions: water supply, water quality, flood protection and natural systems enhancement and protection.

Orange County is just one of the 18 counties where we do our work. Following is an overview of some of the ways that your tax dollars benefit not only the residents and visitors to the county, but also its natural and water resources.

Have you seen construction projects in your community or wonder where your water comes from? Chances are, the District issued a permit through its regulatory programs. The Consumptive Use Permitting Program reviews requests for water use and determines the amount of water available to be withdrawn from groundwater or surface water for uses such as public supply utilities, agricultural operations, commercial uses and power generation. Environmental Resource Permits authorize new construction in a way to prevent harm to water resources (such as causing adverse flooding), manage surface water and protect water quality, wetlands and other surface waters.

Water supply planning and our regulatory and water conservation programs are examples of how we apply our water supply core mission each day.

Staghorn Villas townhomes
Staghorn Villas in Orlando is an example of a neighborhood built to water-saving standards of the Florida Water StarSM program.

Strategies to protect and restore water quality include a commitment to comprehensive monitoring to guide impairment determinations, manage restoration projects and evaluate effectiveness.

Flood protection comes in many forms, such as water storage in natural wetlands and your neighborhood stormwater pond or flood control structures built in strategic locations.

Natural systems benefit from lands the District has purchased for conservation and restoration. These lands are open for free for your enjoyment. On lands not owned by the District, natural systems benefit from effective permitting, water quality improvement projects, minimum flows and levels and cost-share projects.

The District owns or manages the following public lands in your county:

Prescribed fire helps maintain fire-dependent public lands.

Public lands help protect Florida’s endangered plants and animals.

Minimum flows and levels balance people’s and nature’s needs. MFLs in your county are:

Learn more about MFLs.

An alligator crossing a road
An alligator crosses a levee that serves as a trail at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

The District constructs large, regional projects that often benefit multiple counties and benefit more than one of the District’s core missions. Some of the projects in your county include:

  • Lake Apopka and the Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration — Restoration is based on a multipronged approach of putting the lake on a phosphorus diet and exercise program. Diet has focused on the reductions in phosphorus entering the lake, which has included reducing the volume of water pumped from the District’s North Shore property to the lake, treating all discharges to inactivate phosphorus and passage of the Lake Apopka Stormwater Rule. Exercise is the removal of phosphorus from the lake, which has included operating the marsh flow-way to remove phosphorus and suspended solids and harvest of rough fish to remove phosphorus. As of fall 2018, the marsh flow-way had removed 67,619 pounds of total phosphorus and 119 million pounds of suspended solids. From 1993–2017, estimated removal of 26.5 million pounds of rough fish and 217,500 pounds of phosphorus in the fish bodies.
  • Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive — A one-way, 11-mile drive meandering through the eastern portion of the property, all within Orange County. The growing popularity of this drive is estimated to annually generate $5 million in ecotourism revenue.
A wetland treatment cell
A wetland treatment cell at the District’s Lake Apopka Marsh Flow-way.

The District’s cost-share programs help local governments, agricultural entities, disadvantaged communities, and other non-governmental organizations undertake projects to benefit one or more of the District’s core missions and benefit your community. Such projects include upgrades to water treatment facilities, expansion of reclaimed water lines, creating stormwater treatment ponds and parks, etc. Here are examples of this work in your county.

  • Orange County Wekiwa Springs Septic Tank Retrofit Phase 2 — The project is Phase 2 of a septic-to-sewer conversion that involves the installation of sewer laterals, sewer connections, septic tank abandonment, sanitary sewer main, and lift stations for 154 parcels in the Palms 1 and 2 neighborhoods. The estimated nutrient load reduction water quality benefit to Wekiwa-Rock springshed is 1,601 lbs/yr of TN.
  • Orange County Utilities Waterwise Program — One of four similar projects, this project involves the continuation of the county’s water conservation program for new homes and retrofits. The program is voluntary, whereby builders (new) and residents (retrofit) agree to meet certain benchmarks to become as water efficient as possible. The county provides advanced irrigation equipment to the builders and residents. The builder and resident must meet 80% of the Florida Water StarSM silver level requirements.
  • Bekemeyer Family Farm Irrigation Retrofits— Installation of vertical hydroponics, micro-jet/micro-drip retrofit, and installation of a Bermad irrigation/fertigation controller on 15.5 acres of citrus, vegetables and fruits. Water conserved: 0.10 million gallons per day.
  • Read about our cost-share program.
  • See other projects
vertical hydroponics system holding plants
A vertical hydroponics system at Bekemeyer Family Farm.

The District collects a wealth of data that is used to make science-based decisions in all our work. This includes data on how much rain your county has received, the water levels in area lakes and rivers, the amount of nutrients in natural waterways, planning to address future water supply needs and much more.

A hydrologic data monitoring station
One of the District’s hydrologic data monitoring stations within the Lake Apopka North Shore.

The Blue School Grant Program provides funding to teachers within the District in support of their efforts to engage students in understanding and appreciating Florida’s freshwater and estuarine systems.

Blue School Grant Program winners.

  • Wekiva High School (twice)
  • Lake View Middle School

Encourage your child’s teacher to apply for a grant.

Contact us about a speaker for your group. We’d love the opportunity to speak with you about our work. Speaker’s bureau.

Free materials you can read or download at home or school.

Staff in our Governmental Affairs Program provide water resource information, assistance and support to federal, state and local elected officials and their staffs, and collaborate on water resource issues, programs and projects. One of the ways you may have met team members is during the annual Water Conservation Month observance when your local governments approved proclamations recognizing the observance.