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$1.5M Palatka Project Aimed At Improving St. Johns River Water Quality

Palatka's South Historic District.
Peter Jensen
The South Historic District Neighborhood Association
Palatka's South Historic District.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is funding a $1.5 million project in Palatka to improve the quality of stormwater discharges to the St. Johns River.

It’s the second phase of the City of Palatka’s South Historic District Stormwater project, which aims to reduce and treat runoff from a residential neighborhood that discharges to the St. Johns River.

St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) staff presented a symbolic check to members of Palatka’s City Commission during its monthly meeting Thursday.

Credit St. Johns River Water Management District
St. Johns River Water Management District
Pictured from left to right: City Clerk Betsy Driggers, commissioners Mary Lawson-Brown and Justin Campbell, SJRWMD Intergovernmental Coordinator James Troiano, Public Works Director Jonathan Griffith, Mayor Terrill Hill, commissioners Tammie McCaskill and Rufus Borom, and Interim Manager Elmon Lee Garner.

“[The] City of Palatka is extremely grateful of SJRWMD’s generosity,” said Palatka Mayor Terrill Hill. “The district’s cost-share grants have enabled us to complete stormwater and potable water line infrastructure improvements in the South Historic District. We look forward to a continued successful partnership with the district.”

During the first phase of the project, aging stormwater infrastructure was replaced to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient loading to the river. Nitrogen and phosphorus loading in Florida’s waterways is considered a leading driver of the harmful algal blooms that have plagued the state in recent years.

The second phase will involve the installation of an exfiltration trench and stormwater conveyance (methods designed to transport surface runoff without causing erosion or flooding) over 11 blocks of Palatka’s South Historic District, targeting the two remaining discharge points that weren’t included in the first phase.

The SJRWMD estimates that when the project is finished the St. Johns River will see a total nitrogen reduction of 128 pounds per year and a total phosphorus reduction of nearly 17 pounds per year.

That's as Florida's new Blue Green Algae Task Force gets set to hold its second meetingon August 1st to discuss ways to reduce the impacts of toxic algae blooms.

“Cost-share partnerships are a great way to ensure worthy projects like this one are constructed,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We are enthusiastic about our continued work with the city of Palatka to reduce nutrient loading to the river, the centerpiece of the district’s hometown.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.