Flagler County Gets Half-Million-Dollar Grant for Malacompra Basin – Article Revised

The grant is for Flagler County’s Malacompra Basin Water Quality Enhancement project. Phase 1 is estimated to cost a total of $2.5 million.

UPDATE:  7:54 P.M.: The Flagler County Public Information Office issued a "Recall" of the press release upon which this story was based at 5:24 P.M.; after this article was posted. The cryptic recall gave no reason or explanation for the recall. An updated press release was issued on the 15th. The essence of the article remained the unchanged.

PALM COAST, FL –  February 12, 2016 – The St. Johns River Water Management District is providing Flagler County with a $.5 million grant for its Malacompra Basin Water Quality Enhancement project.

Commissioner Frank Meeker and County Administrator Craig Coffey addressed the governing board at its regular meeting Tuesday (February 9) and walked away with the grant that will be used to help fund the first phase of this three-phase project.

“The problem simplified is that when that big storm comes, people can’t get out of their homes because of flooding and our emergency personnel can’t get in,” Meeker said. “Additionally, untreated stormwater and septic tank leachate makes its way into the headwaters of land that we have spent $120 million protect – 40,000 acres.

A letter was issued Thursday to Coffey congratulating Flagler County as one of the approved Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) cost-share program projects.

Meeker, a former employee of the St. Johns River Water Management District, had been here before. Working out of the district’s executive office in Palatka, he attended many meetings where he made clear to county staff that if they ever stood up with a project, the district would be ready to help.

To show the intent of the St. Johns River Water Management District back then, the project was placed in its Northern Coastal Basin Surface Water Improvement Management (SWIM) plan.

“It languished there because it had no local sponsor,” Meeker said.

That changed when the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners agreed to make the project a top legislative priority while Meeker served as chairman.

“I made the point argued it is more cost effective to work on a solution now than to let things get out of hand and we end up with another $20 million Indian River Lagoon restoration caused by many of the same problems experienced in Brevard County,” Meeker said. “This is a great first step.”

Flagler County has selected an approach to correct the problems in the Malacompra Basin that will save taxpayers about $2 million. It will consist of a new holding pond and backbone system with stormwater collection laterals – all permitted with the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers. 

The total project cost is $8.8 million. Flagler County has spent $3.5 million on the design and permitting, as well as the acquisition of 6 acres of property for the holding pond and outfall easements.

Meeker and Coffey, along with commissioners Charlie Ericksen, George Hanns and Nate McLaughlin also spent time in Tallahassee within the past two weeks meeting with Governor Rick Scott, Senator Travis Hutson, Representative Paul Renner and Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli.

“Getting this grant doesn’t diminish our need for the $1.5 million we are requesting from the Florida Legislature,” Coffey said.

Phase 1 is estimated to cost a total of $2.5 million.

“There have been problems in this area that date back to the ‘30s,” Meeker said. “Besides the impact of local flooding on homes and roads, we used these waters for recreation and fishing. There are impacts to the Class II shell fishing waters. I am thankful for the support of the commission, the staff and the SJRWMD. I am glad we can start addressing this issue now and not wait for another 50 years.”  

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