WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, September 18, 2008 (ENS) - For more than a decade, Naples Bay on Florida's southern Gulf coast has been subject to increased pollutant loading as a result of extensive land development in Collier County. The stormwater runoff entering the Gordon River Basin contains chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides, which are slowly damaging the natural ecosystem within the bay.
The development of this resort area has also caused a rise in the volume of stormwater runoff, which has led to the flooding of some areas within the Gordon River Basin.
Land development growth continues to present major challenges to the existing county stormwater network and requires innovative solutions and improvements to the system in order to accommodate the needs within the region.
Now, a 50 acre water quality treatment park is under construction that is expected to help reduce harmful pollutants entering Naples Bay and ease flooding concerns in surrounding areas.
The park is being constructed with $8 million in FY 2009 funding from the state and the South Florida Water Management District as an alternative water supply project.
With $3.8 million in matching funds from the state, the South Florida Water Management District has approved more than $22 million in funding to help communities in South Florida build alternative water supply projects.
In South Florida, alternative water supplies include treatment of saltwater and brackish water, capture and storage of surface water during wet weather, and use of reclaimed water and stormwater from reservoirs or aquifer storage and recovery systems.
When completed, these projects will collectively provide at least 24 million gallons of additional water per day, protecting freshwater supplies by enhancing alternative sources.
This year, 20 projects throughout the district's 16-county region received funding assistance.
"These projects demonstrate the commitment of local governments to provide a reliable and sustainable water supply for their communities," said Eric Buermann, Governing Board chairman for the water management district. "Funding assistance often makes the difference in turning forward-thinking concepts into project realities."
As part of the district's selection process, alternative water supply project proposals were evaluated for meeting funding criteria, such as minimizing impact on existing water resources, reducing local competition for water and producing a high quantity of alternative water supply relative to project cost.
In addition, the projects were required to be ready for construction upon grant award and be consistent with existing regional water supply plans.
The district administers funds through the Alternative Water Supply Funding Program. Cities, utilities, homeowners associations, community development districts and other water users and suppliers can be awarded up to 40 percent of a project's construction costs, based on total funding available and project type.
Project sponsors finance the balance, although economically disadvantaged communities may be eligible for full funding.
Florida's growing population has focused attention on future availability of sufficient water supplies. Since 2005, the state legislature has approved annual funding for diversifying water resources, especially the development of alternative water supplies.
With the latest round of grants, the district and the state of Florida have invested $126 million over the past four years to fund 238 alternative water supply projects. In total, these projects are adding nearly 300 million gallons per day of "new" water to the regional supply.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.