Here’s what we’re doing in Putnam County

Pier during a sunset
The St. Johns River in Palatka.

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.

Putnam 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Consumptive Use Permitting Program reviews requests for water use and determines the amount of water available to be withdrawn from groundwater or surface water for uses such as public supply utilities, agricultural operations, commercial uses and power generation.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.

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:

  • Argenta
  • Banana
  • Bell
  • Bird Pond
  • Broward
  • Clear
  • Como
  • Cowpen
  • Crystal Ida Baker
  • Deep Creek
  • Dream Pond
  • Echo
  • English/Nettles
  • Estella
  • Georges
  • Grandin
  • Howell
  • Little Lake Como
  • Little Lake Mall
  • Lizzie
  • Margaret
  • Marvin
  • McGrady
  • McKasel
  • Melrose
  • North Como Park
  • Omega
  • Orio
  • Pam
  • Prior
  • Sand
  • Silver
  • South Como Park Star
  • Stella
  • Swan
  • Tarhoe
  • Trone

Learn more about MFLs.

Large tree in Murphy Creek Conservation Area
Murphy Creek Conservation Area is among public conservation lands in Putnam County.

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:

  • Shad harvest in Lake George — District staff identified shad harvesting as a rapid and effective way to reduce phosphorus in Lake George, part of the St. Johns River system. Water quality data from Lake George suggest the reduction in phosphorus recycling caused by shad removal is roughly seven times the direct phosphorus removal benefit. District shad harvests on Lake George between 2013 and 2018 removed more than 5 million pounds of fish containing a total of 22,312 pounds of phosphorus. Gizzard shad are a native fish found in most Florida waters and account for 5 to 20 percent of the total fish population in healthy Florida lakes. However, in nutrient-rich, algae-dominated lakes, gizzard shad proliferate and can account for more than 90 percent of the total fish population.
  • Regional stormwater treatment — Runoff of nutrient-rich water in the Tri-County Agricultural Area, which includes Putnam County, for generations entered the lower St. Johns River. The nutrients encouraged algal blooms. To address the excess nutrients, the District designed and built two regional stormwater treatment areas to reduce the amount of phosphorus, nitrogen and suspended solids, filtering the water in a process that mimics nature before flowing into the river. These are Deep Creek West Regional Stormwater Treatment Area and Edgefield Regional Stormwater Treatment Area. The District donated the Edgefield property to Putnam County to help the county meet its obligation under state water quality rules to reduce nutrients entering the St. Johns River. The regional stormwater treatment project reduces annual nutrient loading to the river by approximately 14,300 lbs. of total nitrogen and 5,700 lbs. of total phosphorus.
Man harvesting gizzard shad from a boat
Gizzard shad are hauled out of Lake George as part of a harvest to remove the phosphorus in their bodies and that they stir up while feeding in the lake.

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.

Growers and agricultural entities in Putnam County, as part of the Tri-County Agricultural Area (TCAA), are eligible for funding through the TCAA Water Management Partnership cost-share program. Projects funded through the program contribute to the improved health of the St. Johns River by reducing the movement of nutrients to the river, improving water conservation, and resulting in more efficient farm management while maintaining the long-term viability of agriculture in the TCAA. Learn more about assistance to the Ag community.

Additionally, Putnam County (and all communities within) is designated to receive funding under the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) as of June 2020. This designation is given to areas with an employment base dominated by traditional agriculture or resource-based industries and a population of 25,000 or less. Projects considered for funding shall benefit one or more of the four district core mission areas.

Here are examples of this work in your county.

  • Putnam County Port Buena Vista Sewer Plant Conversion — The project includes conversion of direct discharge at the Port Buena Vista wastewater treatment facility to a lift station and transmission of sewage to the Gilbert Road Regional Sewer Treatment Plant. The estimated nutrient load reduction water quality benefit to the lower St. Johns River is 296 lbs/yr TN and 35 lbs/yr TP.
  • Putnam County Elsie and Horse Landing Road Septic-to-Sewer – The project is the 4th phase of the county’s septic-to-sewer conversions. A total of 30 septic tanks will be decommissioned and sewer laterals will be installed to connect to central sewer. The estimated nutrient load reduction water quality benefit to the Dunns Creek area is 702 lbs./yr. TN and 36 lbs./yr. TP.
  • Read about our cost-share program.
  • See other projects
old piping being replaced
Cost-share funding from the District was used to help replace old piping in the city of Palatka.

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.

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.

  • Crescent City Jr.-Sr. High School
  • C.H. Price Middle School
  • Interlachen High School
  • Putnam Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Q.I. Roberts Junior-Senior High 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.

Students conducted water quality testing
Students at Crescent City Jr./Sr. High School conducted water quality testing as part of a Blue School Grant awarded to the 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.

District intergovernmental coordinator making a speech
A District intergovernmental coordinator meets with state and local officials and residents in the town of Welaka to discuss smart growth for their town and the District’s role.