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District adopts budget focused on springs, water resource protection

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Northwest Florida Water Management District adopts budget focused on springs, water resource protection

PANAMA CITY - The Northwest Florida Water Management District's Governing Board on Sept. 24 adopted a $55.7 million budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16, which begins Oct. 1. The budget represents an increase of $2.1 million from Fiscal Year 2014-15.

"This budget shows, once again, the Board's commitment to the people and natural resources of northwest Florida," said Brett Cyphers, Executive Director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District.

A majority of the spending in the final budget is directed toward restoring and protecting springs, providing water supply grant assistance to local communities, and improving the water quality in the Apalachicola River and Bay and St. Andrew Bay watersheds.

While the District funds many of its operations through the collection of ad valorem taxes and timber sales, the state also provides significant operational support and funding for projects that protect the region's water resources.

"Thanks to the support of Secretary Steverson, Governor Scott, and the Legislature, the District is able to make significant strides toward completing projects that will make the greatest positive impact on the region's communities and natural resources," said Governing Board Chairman George Roberts.

Included in the newly adopted budget are the following highlights:

  • $17.3 million for Springs Projects. This funding will enable the District to implement springs restoration and protection projects for Wakulla Springs and Jackson Blue Spring as well as springs associated with the Holmes and Econfina creek systems.
  • $13.9 million for Water Supply Development Assistance. This funding includes $2.3 million for the implementation of new local grant funding for cooperative water supply development assistance.
  • $4.8 million for Watershed Restoration. This funding will facilitate continued efforts to protect and restore water quality and estuarine habitats in the Apalachicola River and Bay and St. Andrew Bay systems through the implementation of cooperative stormwater retrofit projects and other best management practices.
  • $1.7 million for the ongoing effort to develop Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) for the St. Marks River Rise, Wakulla Spring, Sally Ward Spring, Jackson Blue Spring and the Floridan aquifer in coastal Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. This also includes MFL hydrologic monitoring for water levels, discharge, and rainfall at 97 sites across the Panhandle.