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DEP announces Water-Quality Restoration Grant opportunities

Grants available to assist Florida communities with water-quality improvement; Application deadline Nov. 1st

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is currently soliciting applications for the next cycle of funding through its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Water-Quality Restoration Grant Program. Through this program, DEP awards funding to local communities and water management districts to implement and construct projects designed to reduce pollutant loads to impaired waters from stormwater discharges. The application deadline is Nov. 1, 2016, at 5 p.m. EST for the current round of funding.

"The department is pleased to partner with local communities by providing grant funding to benefit water quality," said Trina Vielhauer, director of the Division of Water Restoration Assistance. "We encourage local governments to apply for funding assistance for eligible projects to improve water quality in their area."

Funded through annual appropriations from the Florida Legislature, TMDL grants focus on projects designed to restore impaired springs, rivers, lakes and estuaries which need help meeting Florida's stringent water-quality standards.

Specifically, the TMDL grant program provides funding assistance for communities to implement projects to better manage or treat stormwater. Stormwater runoff is generated when rain flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not seep into the ground. As the runoff flows over paved streets, parking lots and building rooftops, it accumulates debris, nutrients, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is left untreated and runs into nearby surface waters.

Examples of projects that were recently awarded TMDL grants from the July 2016 cycle include:

Leesburg: Awarded $250,000 to construct dry retention swales with underdrains along a 1,200-foot former railroad right-of-way, which will provide stormwater treatment for the Heritage Estates neighborhood. Currently, untreated stormwater flows into Lake Harris, part of the Upper Oklawaha River Basin.

Maitland: Awarded $400,000 to replace discharge pipes to direct stormwater flow into sediment-removing baffle boxes before heading into the 8-acre Lake Gem. Additionally, the accumulated sediment in Lake Gem, which contains phosphorous, will be removed by mechanical dredging. This project is part of the Lake Jesup Basin Management Action Plan and fulfills a portion of Maitland’s required phosphorous reduction allocation.

Winter Haven: Awarded $750,000 for water-quality improvements to Lake Conine by restoring a 33-acre parcel owned by the city, and reducing pollutants in the Upper Peace Creek Watershed area. Future phases of the project will include constructing recreational features such as walking trails, picnic pavilions, boardwalks, fishing piers and playgrounds.

The department ranks projects for funding based on the impaired status of the associated water body, the water-quality improvement benefit (the estimated pollutant load reductions the project is designed to achieve), the cost-effectiveness of the project, and the percentage of local matching funds. Another consideration is whether the applicant has a dedicated revenue source to continue effective stormwater management in the future.

Since 2002, the department has awarded more than $114 million in TMDL grants, including $5.4 million awarded in fiscal year 2015-16 and $1.4 million in fiscal year 2016-17, to date.

Visit the TMDL Water-Quality Restoration Grant Program webpage for more information on the application process and qualification requirements.