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Last second applications secure two state wastewater grants for Apopka

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Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson announced some good news at the end of the November 17th City Council meeting. More state grant money is coming to Apopka, thanks to some last-minute applications by the City staff. 

"We found an opportunity for a state grant that came down for some water projects, and so I gave it to my team," Nelson said.

Nelson was referring to The Florida Department of Environmental Protection Wastewater Grant Programs, which prioritize wastewater projects in basin management action plans, restoration plan areas and rural areas of opportunity and also requires at least a 50% match. Wastewater infrastructure projects that are eligible for grant funding include projects to construct, upgrade, or expand wastewater treatment facilities to provide advanced waste treatment and projects to upgrade or convert traditional septic systems.  All projects funded through the wastewater grant program within DEP will reduce nutrient pollution to Florida’s waterways.

Nelson explained to his team that there were only three days to put together the application.

'We can't do it,' the team said, according to Nelson. 'It can't be done in three days.'

But Nelson told them to persevere and do the best they can.

"All they [the DEP] can do is tell us no," Nelson said. "Just do it."

The staff met the three-day deadline, and as a reward for their perseverance, the City of Apopka was awarded two grants worth $5.25 million. 

The first is a $250,000 grant to transition Camp Wewa from septic to sewer. The second grant is to convert four trailer parks from a package plant to a sewer system.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, package plants are pre-manufactured treatment facilities used to treat wastewater in small communities.

"We have four trailer parks within our service area, but not in the City," Nelson said. "And we just got a $5 million grant to help us convert those over from package plants, which are very wasteful, and not good for the environment at all, to hook them up to our sewer plant."

The grants were made available through three programs administered by DEP – the Wastewater Grant Program, Springs restoration grants, and the Small Community Wastewater Grant Program.

  • $394 million from the Wastewater Grant Program for wastewater treatment improvements, including septic to sewer projects and projects to upgrade to advanced waste treatment. The $394 million awarded today is from federal funds.
  • $67 million for projects to protect Florida’s world-renowned springs including land acquisition/conservation easements and wastewater infrastructure improvements. Of the $67 million awarded today, $50 million is from state funds and $17 million is from federal funds.
  • $20 million for the Small Community Wastewater Grant Program for wastewater facility improvements in Rural Areas of Economic Opportunity and financially disadvantaged communities. The $20 million awarded today is from federal funds.

Orange County received $36.8 million for its Wekiwa Springs septic-to-sewer program.

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