Water-Related News

SJRWMD/Leesburg partnership will improve our region’s water quality

On Thursday, Dec. 3rd, St. Johns River Water Management District's (SJRWMD) Governing Board Secretary Susie Dolan and Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle helped kick off a partnership project in the City of Leesburg that will provide water quality benefits for the area, fulfilling one of SJRWMD's core missions. The project will upgrade and expand the City's wastewater treatment plant, improvements which will provide benefits for Lake Harris, Little Lake Harris and the Okahumpka Swamp.

As a part of the SJRWMD cost-share program, the District is contributing $1.4 million toward the $21 million water quality improvement and wastewater treatment facility expansion of the Turnpike Wastewater Treatment Facility. The upgrades will increase Leesburg’s wastewater treatment capacity from its currently permitted 3 million gallons per day to 4.5 million gallons per day and will improve the water quality treatment processes, all of which ultimately benefit local waterways. Projects like this will help realize the shared goals of protecting water quality, saving water through water conservation and maximizing the use of reclaimed water and other alternative water supply sources.

The priority for this project is to reduce nutrient loading to Lake Harris, Little Lake Harris and the Okahumpka Swamp, which are within the boundaries of the Upper Ocklawaha Basin Management Action Plan. This project is estimated to result in nutrient load reductions of approximately 18,265 lbs./yr. total nitrogen to Okahumpka Swamp, Lake Harris and Little Lake Harris. The city of Leesburg is making significant progress in meeting its obligations under its Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) by completing the majority — five so far — of its seven project commitments for restoration of the lakes.

The District and partnering local governments have funded more than 300 cost-share projects over the past six years, with a total investment of nearly $207 million in District cost-share and Rural Economic Development Initiative cost-share dollars. Combined, the projects have reduced total nitrogen entering Florida’s waterways by approximately 1.7 million pounds per year and total phosphorus by nearly 303,000 pounds per year and provided an estimated 173 million gallons per day of alternative water supplies.