Silver Springs, visitors to benefit from collaborative water project

Sept. 17, 2020

District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle, center in photo at right, joined city of Ocala officials for the groundbreaking of the now completed Ocala Wetlands Recharge Park (left) in June 2018.

We are excited to join the City of Ocala in celebrating the opening of the Ocala Wetlands Recharge Park to the public on Sept. 21. The St. Johns River Water Management District contributed cost-share funding toward this project, which supports the District’s core missions, and provides many benefits for the city, for nearby Silver Springs and for visitors who will have a new destination to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

The District awarded $2.1 million toward the project from our 2018 cost-share funding program, with an additional $2.1 million coming from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) springs funding and a city contribution of $4.2 million. This project will result in enhanced aquifer recharge to help Silver Springs by increasing water flow by about 2.5 million gallons per day (mgd), improving water quality through a stormwater treatment area and providing open space for passive public recreation, such as bird-watching and hiking.

The wetlands recharge system was built at an abandoned 9-hole golf course less than six miles from Silver Springs and now features 35 acres of infiltration wetlands divided into three cells, which will receive up to 5 mgd of reclaimed water and stormwater from city facilities. Using existing infrastructure from a decommissioned wastewater treatment plant, stormwater will be collected, pre-treated and pumped to the wetlands recharge park, resulting in greater quantities of water for aquifer recharge. The project will also reduce an estimated 29,000 lbs. per year of total nitrogen and 30,500 lbs. per year of total phosphorus from the source waters and will help to abate flooding. Add the creation of a brand-new public park to the list of project benefits and you can see why we are celebrating!

These kinds of collaborative projects are a win-win. We are grateful for the partnerships that are making such beneficial projects become reality in our communities as we work for the betterment of Florida’s water resources and protection of its precious springs.

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