MIDDLEBURG – The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board today approved an agreement with Clay County Utility Authority to convert as many as 79 septic tanks to central sewer on properties adjacent to Doctors Lake. The project, spearheaded by Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Travis Cummings through a 2018 legislative appropriation, is estimated to reduce total nitrogen loading to Doctors Lake by approximately 1,500 pounds a year.
“The District thanks Sen. Bradley and Rep. Cummings for being champions of the Lower St. Johns River Basin and working with us to fund projects that will bring water quality improvements to the St. Johns River and its tributaries,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle.
“We set out two years ago to end the algae blooms in Doctors Lake,” said Sen. Bradley. “This is another important step in the process. I’m proud to work with Rep. Cummings to fund these critical efforts to clean our waterways.”
“Senator Bradley and I worked tirelessly to secure the funding to empower CCUA and the district to partner and implement this project to help eradicate algae blooms and other troubling issues in Doctor’s Lake and restore health to our waterways so that the residents of Clay County and its visitors may enjoy our precious natural resources for generations to come,” said Rep. Cummings.
“We are excited about the first phase of this effort and look forward to opportunities to improve the health of the Doctors Lake watershed,” said CCUA Chief Operations Officer Jeremy Johnston. “It’s partnerships like these that continue to benefit our waterways and our community.”
Doctors Lake has experienced algal blooms for 33 of the last 35 years due largely to excessive nutrients entering the watershed and this partnership.
The $1.5 million project includes septic tank abandonment, providing sewer infrastructure to the area and connecting participating residences to the CCUA wastewater collection system for greatly improved treatment and beneficial reuse.
Under the agreement, the district will reimburse CCUA periodically as residents agree to abandon their septic tank and connect to sewer. The project goal is to abandon 79 septic tanks with subsequent connection to central sewer, which is estimated to reduce total nitrogen loading to the lake by approximately 1,500 pounds per year.
During the 2018 legislative session, Sen. Bradley and Rep. Cummings secured specific funding during the budget process for the St. Johns River to implement projects that will help restore the river, its tributaries and the Keystone Heights Lake Region, as well as improving public access and recreation projects within the St. Johns River Water Management District.