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DEP Awards St. Lucie County $2.3 million for Water Projects

DEP Awards St. Lucie County $2.3 million for Water Projects

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced that St. Lucie County will receive more than $2.3 million in grants for several water-quality project.

St. Lucie County is set to receive the following in grant funds:

  • $1 million for the Melville Road Phase 1 Stormwater Improvements;
  • $700,000 for the Richard E. Becker Preserve River Oxbow Restoration;
  • $600,000 for the Teague Hammock Hydrologic Restoration Project (This project was previously awarded $400,000 during the 2017 Legislative Session.)

This important state funding will allow St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources and Public Works Departments to move forward on projects that help remove unwanted nutrients from the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, as well as help with flood control in the White City area.

“I am extremely pleased to hear the good news regarding the recent funding of these projects from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It is truly heart warming to see the collaborative efforts DEP is showing toward the environmental needs of our county,” said Rep. Delores Hogan Johnson. “These projects are critical to improving water quality and protecting the quality of life for the citizens of St. Lucie County. As I always say and will continue to say: The quality of life for all citizens of St. Lucie County depends on clean water, clean air and clean land’. The citizens of St. Lucie County must be forever vigilant to ensure that we have a quality of life that is second to none.”

“It is wonderful that St. Lucie County has been awarded funding for three restoration and stormwater projects,” stated Sen. Gayle Harrell. “These projects will directly impact the St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon and the Central Everglades Restoration Projects.”

“I am proud to play a small part in ensuring that St. Lucie County was awarded these projects and over $2.3 million dollars to improve the environment and drainage for the citizens of our county,” added Rep. Toby Overdorf.

About the Projects:

Melville Road Phase 1 Stormwater Improvements: The Melville Road drainage area consists of a 175-acre residential neighborhood in White City that drains to the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. Residents of this neighborhood have observed flooding along Melville Road and connecting off-streets during major storm events, which leads to unwanted nutrients being carried to the St. Lucie River and ultimately the Indian River Lagoon. The existing drainage system along Melville Road consists of shallow swales and ditches leading to either the North Saint Lucie Water Control District’s (NSLRWCD) C19 Canal or to the Oleander Avenue drainage system, both of which drain to the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. Land acquisition of the parcels to the east and to the west of the neighborhood will be used as stormwater treatment areas. In addition to providing the much needed flood protection, this project will reduce the nutrient loading to the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, which has been designated as an impaired water body for nutrients, specifically nitrogen and phosphorus. Using the University of Central Florida BMP-Trains model, it had been calculated that the water quality treatment portion of this project is expected to remove 78 percent of the nitrogen and 91 percent of the phosphorus. Additionally, this project will provide some wildlife benefits in the form of a 9-acre pond and a neighborhood amenity for those residents who wish to enjoy a walk around an aesthetically pleasing pond.  The county also plans to install an informational kiosk which will provide an educational element that informs the public on how the pond works and provides a reduction of nutrients to the currently impaired water body of the St. Lucie River.

Richard E. Becker Preserve River Oxbow Restoration: Reconnecting isolated floodplain and the oxbows at the Becker Preserve will be a critical component to the restoration of the St. Lucie River and the benefits include, added floodplain protection, improved water quality, added stormwater buffer, reduction in muck deposits downstream and increased nursery habitat for native fish and river wildlife. The project will improve ecotourism for activities such as kayaking from the Becker Preserve. This oxbow project will restore roughly 1,300 linear feet of historic riverbed. Construction will include dredging muck from the river bottom and removal of a spoil plug blocking flow to the river floodplain. St. Lucie currently funds a live ORCA Kilroy monitoring station at the mouth of the oxbow. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission has already committed $216,922 toward permitting, design and construction of this project.

The Teague Preserve Hydrologic Restoration Project: This project is an IRL-S C23/C24 CERP buffer project that will provide an additional 300-acres of groundwater recharge and natural area storage that will reclaim agriculture water discharge, restore priority wetland habitat for threatened and endangered species, and reduce state and local invasive exotic management costs. The project restores wetlands and surface water impacted by historical agricultural operations in the tributaries to the St. Lucie River Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon South Estuary.  Benefits include reducing nutrient concentrations to receiving downstream waters, attenuating flooding and enhancing and restoring hydroperiods of freshwater wetlands to improve habitats for fish and wildlife.  The restoration project will also enhance passive recreational opportunities and increase ecotourism. Teague Hammock was purchased for preservation with Florida Forever funds and holds unique natural and historic resources onsite.

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