In Others News

In Other News

DEP Recognizes 2024 Earth Day Poster Contest Winners

To celebrate Earth Day 2024, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hosted a poster contest for students in the 4th through 12th grades. Students were invited to design a poster that encourages environmental awareness using DEP’s Earth Day theme, “Clean is Green: Preserving Florida’s Future.”

A finalist in each age group (4th – 5th grades, 6th – 8th grades, and 9th – 12th grades) was selected from each of DEP’s six district offices, and the finalists’ art was sent to the Tallahassee office where DEP staff selected a state winner for each age group.

“Congratulations to this year’s Earth Day poster contest winners and all the participants,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “I am impressed by participating students’ environmental awareness. They understand that protecting Florida’s natural resources is a collective responsibility that can be realized through active participation.”

Grades 4th – 5th State Winner

Salet, 5th Grade, Bay Crest Elementary School

“Make the World Better

Grades 6th – 8th State Winner

Phoebe, 8th Grade, Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences

“Earth Needs Our Help”

Grades 9th – 12th State Winner

Katarina, 10th grade, William T. Dwyer High School

“Preserve Florida’s Beauty”

While much of the world celebrates Earth Day on April 22, DEP works every day to protect Florida’s air, water and land as the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship.

At DEP, every day is Earth Day. Visit DEP’s Earth Day 2024 webpage for inspiration on how to celebrate Florida’s environment year-round and for steps to protect our valuable natural resources.

SRWMD Board recommends $130 million in Alternative Water Supply funding

Five alternative water supply (AWS) projects were recommended for funding in mid-May by the Suwannee River Water Management District (District) Governing Board.

The five North Florida projects – three District projects, one local government project, and one water and wastewater cooperative – will total more than $130 million if approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

These projects are part of an effort to reduce water use from the Floridan Aquifer or to develop region-specific water sources that offer an alternative to traditional ground and surface water sources. Alternative water sources, such as reclaimed or recycled water, saltwater or brackish water, and storm water, also help make communities less susceptible to drought. These water sources also diversify Florida’s water supply while reducing its dependence on freshwater resources. 

“Maximizing the use of alternative water sources is vital to ensuring smart, sustainable growth in North Florida. We appreciate that our Governor and Legislature help advance projects like these to strengthen Florida’s water resources to continue to meet the demands of our citizens,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director of the District. 

Projects include: 

Santa Fe Basin Land Acquisition and Recharge – SRWMD – $3 million – This land acquisition project would provide storage and recharge for the MFLs of the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee rivers through the diversion of excess water flows.

Groundwater Augmentation through surficial features – SRWMD – $500,000 – This project will provide recharge to the Upper Floridan Aquifer to benefit the MFLs across the District, with priority focus on the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee rivers and regional water supply planning areas. This includes, but is not limited to, debris removal from karst features, enhanced capacity of surface water features, and management of stormwater and other high flow events.

Public Supply Efficiencies Phase 2 – SRWMD – $2 million – This project would develop infrastructure and conservation improvements to reduce water loss based on water audits information or conservation measures across the District.

W3C Regional Water and Wastewater System – The Waccasassa Water and Wastewater Cooperative – $120 million – Funding for this project would develop regional potable water and wastewater facilities to meet the needs of Cedar Key, Otter Creek, Bronson, and unserved areas of Levy County.

Wastewater Reuse, Nutrient Force Main – City of Jasper – $4.5 million – This project would remove Jaspers’ wastewater treatment facility effluent disposal from Baisden Swamp to provide both an alternative water supply for irrigation and supplement water storage in the Nutrient settling ponds. 

The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public. Headquartered in Live Oak, Florida, the District serves 15 surrounding north-central Florida counties.

North Florida Land Trust Facilitates the Preservation of more than 855 acres in Putnam County

More than 855 acres of land in a critical wildlife corridor in Putnam County will now be preserved forever in an agreement brokered by North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The organizations worked together to purchase the 855.35-acre conservation easement on family-owned land in the Ocala to Osceola Wildlife Corridor, or O2O. The conservation easement was acquired for $2.1 million funded through the Florida Forever program.

NFLT approached the O’Connor family heirs who own the land to discuss the possibility of conservation for the property which has been in the family for almost a century. The land, an important linkage property within the O2O, is adjacent to Cross Florida Greenway conservation land and includes significant frontage on Rodman Lake. The property was the only land along the lake that was not yet protected. NFLT was able to facilitate the preservation of the property by connecting the family to the state program that could make the acquisition possible.

“Protecting this property through the conservation easement agreement is a great way to make sure this wonderful piece of property, which is bordered by conservation lands and waterways, remains natural forever,” said Allison DeFoor, president of NFLT. “We are grateful to the family and the FDEP, our partners in preservation, for helping us preserve another piece of real Florida.”

The property is a mosaic of pine flatwoods, mixed pine-hardwood hammocks and forests, and sandy pine uplands that were historically longleaf pine sandhill and sand pine scrub. The property encompasses shoreline and submerged areas under the bottom of the Rodman Reservoir including the inundated Ocklawaha River channel and is important for the protection of the Orange Creek and lower Ocklawaha River watersheds. It adds tremendous value for wildlife due to the diversity of the habitat for many species including the alligator, white-tail deer, turkey, red shoulder hawk, Florida Black Bear, indigo snake and gopher tortoise.

Landowner Carolyn Marlowe, speaking on behalf of the family, said, “Our property has been in the family for nearly 100 years. We desire to protect and preserve the wildlife, freshwater ecosystem, and woodlands to be enjoyed by us and future generations of our family.”

The conservation easement agreement allows the family to continue to use the land for recreation, hunting, and timber production. It also allows the family to construct no more than three residential homesites on the property which is within the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Florida Forever project boundary. FDEP will own, manage and monitor the conservation easement.


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