MILTON — Milton continues to move forward on its estimated $31 million project to move its wastewater treatment plant to East Milton to end its discharge of effluent into the Blackwater River and improve water quality.

Milton City Manager Randy Jorgenson said the plant will be moved to a 24-acre site at the Santa Rosa Industrial Park in East Milton in five phases. The city is now in Phase I. No date for completion of the project has been set, but the city plans to use various funding sources until it's done.

Santa Rosa County Commissioners prioritized the city's wastewater project, as part of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies (RESTORE) Act. The county also approved $2 million for the major health and environmental project.

"The (county commissioners) understand the economic vitality and the environmental impact of this project," Jorgenson said.

That is not the only goal. Milton's wastewater treatment plant, which is located just south of downtown will reach its maximum treatment capacity of 2.5 million gallons a day by 2025. Meanwhile, the proposed plant could treat 8 million gallons a day.

To help oversee the project, a steering committee meets every two weeks. Members do research on the various components involved with moving the wastewater treatment plant in between meetings and their results determine the next step in the process, Jorgenson said.

Right now, the next step, Jorgenson said, is reworking the application to the Triumph Gulf Coast Inc. board and meeting with the RESTORE Act council.

RESTORE of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 established the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund overseen by the U.S. Treasury. The trust fund allocates 80 percent of the amount of any Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Coast. Of that amount, 75 percent of Florida's funding goes directly to the eight most impacted counties, which includes Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla and Walton counties.

Jorgenson wants to break the project down and fund each part with various available funds.

"We are seeking help with these components rather than the project as a whole," Jorgensen said.

Already, Northwest Florida Water District officials gave an easement to the city to help relocate the wastewater treatment plant. The easement allows for boring a line going underneath the Blackwater River. The line will carry treated wastewater from the current plant to the new wastewater facility in East Milton.

Water district officials recognized that the environmental aspects for this project would also fit some of their goals, Jorgenson said.

"Ultimately, we all want to remove the effluent discharge going into the Blackwater River," Jorgenson said.