Santa Rosa County has been awarded $499,000 through the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Division’s Healthy and Resilient Gulf of Mexico. The funding will be used to construct green stormwater infrastructure at the County Administrative Complex, which will be used to demonstrate practices aimed to address and improve impaired waters within the Pensacola Bay Watershed.
This project seeks to demonstrate the effective design, implementation, and maintenance of green infrastructure, including vegetated bioswales, tree boxes and permeable surface at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Complex in Milton.
Currently the 8.6-acre site has 90% impervious surfaces, per the grant application. The project will add 20 tree boxes and bioswales within existing medians and replace asphalt with around 24,000 square feet of permeable pavement. Additionally, the project will provide 6,000 square feet of rain gardens in a courtyard area and at an existing retention pond.
The effort is in partnership with the University of Florida’s Milton Watershed Lab, and UF/IFAS will provide an outreach and education component with a goal to educate visitors, employees, the building industry and community leaders about the benefits of green infrastructure practices.
SRC Environmental staff and UF/IFAS Extension agents will lead tours for the local community and businesses to learn more about green infrastructure potential. Additionally incentives for free plant vouchers for homeowners will be provided.
“It is anticipated that as the community observes the changes to the (grounds), that they will gain knowledge about the project, request additional information and work to incorporate green infrastructure in future (Santa Rosa County) development projects and on homeowner properties,” Santa Rosa County Grants Manager Naisy Dolar stated in the application.
UF/IFAS will also monitor and collect data on the ability of these structural to reduce pollutant loads entering the Blackwater River.
“This (grant) is very exciting as our water quality continues to be degraded in large measure due to storm runoff and septic tanks,” said Gulf Breeze resident Elizabeth Major. “I am thrilled they have received a grant for four types of demonstration remedies where both builders and homeowners will see them.”
The project is to be completed in three years from September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2025.