Santa Rosa County receives $499,075 green infrastructure grant

Special to the Press Gazette / USA TODAY NETWORK

MILTON — At the Nov. 9 commission regular meeting, the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners approved the acceptance of a $499,075 award from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Division’s Healthy and Resilient Gulf of Mexico.

The award category was Building Community Resilience Through the Reduction and Prevention of Nonpoint Source Pollution.

This funding opportunity allows Santa Rosa County to create a project of innovative green stormwater infrastructure practices to address and improve impaired waters within the Pensacola Bay Watershed.

Example of a bioswale and permeable pavement parking lot surface. The bioswales help remove pollutants from surface runoff water.

This project seeks to demonstrate the effective design, implementation, and maintenance of green infrastructure, including vegetated bioswales, tree boxes and permeable surface throughout the 8.6-acre Santa Rosa County Administrative Complex. This effort is in partnership with the University of Florida Milton Watershed Lab as a subrecipient; the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences for the outreach and education component; and the county's environmental and grants department for project management and monitoring.

“We are thrilled to have been one of the selected projects in this competitive application process," said Naisy Dolar, grants and RESTORE program manager. "Our team believes that showcasing green infrastructure is a good step toward tackling the challenges we face in handling stormwater and water quality issues throughout the county."

Planned green infrastructure improvements include:

  • 20 tree boxes within 20,000 square feet of existing medians.
  • Placing .25 acres of bioswales in existing medians and replacing an impervious conveyance drainage ditch with a bioswale. Native flood-tolerant woody and herbaceous perennial plants will be used.
  • Approximately 23,953.42 square feet of permeable pavement will replace existing asphalt in the rear parking lot. By removing impervious surface, direct rainfall and rainfall runoff from the rooftop will no longer enter the conveyance system untreated.
  • The addition of 6,000 square feet of rain gardens in the existing retention pond and building courtyard. Rain gardens can provide a natural drainage, collection network and filtration of stormwater.

The goal is to educate visitors, employees, the building industry and community leaders about the benefits of green infrastructure practices, as well as monitor and collect data on the ability of these structural best management practices to reduce pollutant loads entering the Blackwater River.

The project is to be completed in three years beginning in late spring 2022 and ending in summer 2025.