Big news came for the City of St. Pete in the form of massive support for the city’s infrastructure. St. Petersburg announced that it is going to be awarded $20,445,000 from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, funds that will be directed to update the city’s aging water-related infrastructure.
Mayor Ken Welch, in announcing the grant, said the funding will be used to support the St. Pete Water Plan, a holistic 20-year plan to address the city’s aging infrastructure for potable water, reclaimed water, wastewater, stormwater, and natural bodies of water. These directives include investment in Welch’s Pillar for Progress: Environment, Infrastructure & Resilience.
Two major projects will receive the lion’s share of the grant money. Approximately $11,575,000 will be used to mitigate stormwater flooding at Lake Maggiore in the Salt Creek basin, the city said. Then, approximately $8,870,000 will be used to replace maintenance buildings at the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility and the Northeast Water Reclamation Facility in order to increase service reliability and safety during extreme weather events like hurricanes.
“We have an intentional focus on partnerships and seeking grant opportunities. These Resilient Florida Program funds will enable the City to make necessary infrastructure improvements that will mitigate flooding and increase utility service reliability,” said Welch. “Investing in improvements that upgrade aging infrastructure is a top priority for my administration. These types of opportunities help to strengthen St. Pete’s framework and systems.”
More than $3 billion to be invested in St. Pete’s Water Plan
Of course, this grant is but a portion of Welch’s Water Plan. Since 2015, the City has invested more than $280 million to repair aging infrastructure and increase resiliency for the future. That number will only grow, as St. Pete’s Water Plan will invest approximately $3.5 billion to continue the work to improve the infrastructure in the years to come.
In a city undergoing quick growth and dealing with the realities of major storms and climate-related disruptions, these updates are vital to St. Pete’s long-term resiliency.
From the City of St. Pete: “Embracing innovation to help solve challenges to our environment is a guiding principle of the Welch Administration. With St. Pete on a bullseye for sea level rise that will impact every resident of our city, our priorities are protecting and preserving our environment; upgrading aging infrastructure; and ensuring resiliency to rising seas and hotter temperatures through shoreline restoration and alternative energy; investing in environmental technology; and creating codes and regulations that protect the fragile eco-balance in Tampa Bay.”
Learn more at stpete.org/vision.