Water-Related News

Bonita Springs bioreactor receives key funding

Bonita Springs City Council has approved moving forward with an agreement that would provide grant funding for phase 2 of the city's bioreactor project. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) announced funding availability on October 25, 2019, for Approaches to Reduce Nutrient Loadings for Harmful Algal Blooms Management and on November 6, 2019, the FDEP announced an Innovative Technology Grant Solicitation for Harmful Algal Blooms.

Staff received a notice of funding award on January 17, 2020, and received the agreement on July 2, 2020. The DEP grant allocates $400,000 with no required match from the City.

This is a new grant for the City, which does not have a current year budget.

In 2012, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requested that Bonita Springs work to reduce the total maximum daily load of nitrogen in its waterways to 0.74 mg/L under what is referred to as the “Everglades West Coast Basin Management Action Plan”. This tasked the city of Bonita Springs to reduce the amount of nitrogen along the Imperial River to more closely reflect those of pre-development and agriculture levels. The FDEP has projected a target reduction amount of 60,000 lbs. by the year 2027, of which Bonita Springs is required to remove 9,303 lbs. The city has already successfully removed around 3,301 lbs. of nitrogen from the waterways through various removal methods and has been developing a sustainable long-term solution for the remaining 6,000 lbs. of nitrogen.

The goal for phase one of this project was to capture nitrogen removal ratings data as a baseline for FDEP to review and approve a removal efficiency rating for the bioreactor systems to facilitate the achievement of clean water statewide.

The Felts Avenue Bio-Reactor Project utilizes a bio-retention process for nitrogen removal from stormwater runoff. The bio-reactor concept is a low-impact development technique that requires very little “above ground” disturbance. It involves constructing sub-surface retention beds of woodchips, or burying pipes filled with woodchips, to create an anaerobic (oxygen-starved) nitrogen removing environment.

In addition, its underground footprint allows for above-ground use of the landscape that is not necessarily stormwater treatment-related. The Felts Avenue project capitalizes on this key feature by incorporating an at-grade 101-stall parking facility above the bioreactor's water treatment cells. If the project had utilized a traditional dry retention pond to treat the incoming stormwater, the area that would have been available for parking would have only yielded 28 spaces, as opposed to the 101.