TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently awarded an additional $26.6 million in low-interest loans to Charlotte County to improve wastewater infrastructure and utility services, totaling more than $60.2 million in loans to date to fund Charlotte Harbor Water Quality Initiative projects. Funding is provided through the state's Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program.
"Helping to restore and protect Florida's waterways is a priority, and we are pleased to provide funding for projects that will benefit Charlotte Harbor, Florida's second largest, natural open-water estuary," said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystems restoration.
The Charlotte Harbor Water Quality Initiative is a partnership between local and state agencies to work towards implementing projects to improve water quality within the Lower Charlotte Harbor basin, primarily through septic-to sewer conversions, wastewater infrastructure and stormwater improvements. These types of projects reduce nutrient and bacterial pollution, which protect estuarine ecosystems and maintain the health and safety of residents.
A $5.2 million planning and design loan was awarded for current and future phases of infrastructure improvements for the Initiative, including:
- Expansion of sewer into the unincorporated El Jobean community, reducing nutrients to the Myakka River from existing onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems;
- Expansion of sewer along a 3-mile corridor of U.S. Highway 41 to more than 1,000 properties, primarily commercial, and a lift station that will handle additional flows from this area;
- Expansion of water, sewer and reclaimed water services to the area south of Edgewater Drive within the drainage basin of Ackerman and Countryman Waterways, removing additional OSTDS from this basin; and
- Finalization of the design for the Loveland master lift station that will handle anticipated flows from future Initiative projects, and a force main from the master lift station to the East Port Water Reclamation Facility.
Two additional construction loans, totaling $21.4 million, were awarded to construct new and replace existing wastewater infrastructure, including:
- Continuation of constructing new wastewater collection and transmission facilities for residential properties in the East and West Spring Lake area currently served by OSTDS;
- Construction of the Loveland master lift station being designed to convey future flows to the East Port Water Reclamation Facility; and
- Installation of new wastewater force mains and reclaimed water service lines, and replacement of portions of existing gravity sewers within several sections of the Parkside Community Redevelopment Area.
"Charlotte County is thankful for DEP's partnership in helping us continue the massive undertaking of converting septic tanks to central sewer through these projects," said Bill Truex, chairman of the Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners. "This will not only improve water quality in Charlotte Harbor now, but it will ensure the future protection of this important resource."
Previous loans for Charlotte Harbor Water Quality Initiative projects total $33.6 million and included the initial phases of providing centralized sewer to the East and West Spring Lakes area. These previously funded, completed projects include installation of new pipes to handle flows from the septic-to-sewer conversion, installation of a new pump station at the East Port Water Reclamation Facility, and creation of a reclaimed water storage pond.
SOURCE: Florida Department of Environmental Protection