The U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners has received a $295,500 cooperative agreement for the project “Bayou Chico Water Quality Improvements.” J. Taylor Kirschenfeld, Escambia County Senior Scientist and Department Director of Escambia County Board of County Commissioners, will provide leadership for this project.
“Escambia County appreciates the partnership with the USEPA Gulf of Mexico Program to install floating treatment wetlands in the Bayou Chico Watershed to improve water quality via nutrient uptake. When the grown vegetation is harvested, it will be planted at local living shoreline projects where it will continue to improve water quality, provide estuarine habitat, and provide cuttings for the next crop of vegetation for the floating treatment wetlands. Thus the project is zero waste and self-sustaining. This project, which will involve students from area schools to assist with the planting and harvesting of vegetation, would not be possible without the generous support of the USEPA Gulf of Mexico Program” said Taylor Kirschenfled.
“Love seeing the continued leadership from Escambia County and pleased to partner with the community to help protect this vital resource,” said Ben Scaggs, Director, EPA-Gulf of Mexico Program.
Escambia County will improve water quality in portions of Bayou Chico by installing floating treatment wetlands in Jackson Lake, an upstream tributary connected to Jackson Creek, Bayou Chico, and Pensacola Bay. Vegetation from the floating treatment wetlands will improve water quality via nutrient uptake from detained storm event flows thereby reducing the amount of excess nutrients being conveyed by Jackson Creek to Bayou Chico.
In addition, when the grown vegetation is routinely harvested from the floating treatment wetlands, it will be planted at existing and under construction living shoreline restoration projects in the Pensacola Bay Watershed where the vegetation will continue to improve water quality and provide new estuarine habitat.
The living shoreline project will provide cuttings for future plant propagation and the next crop of vegetation for installation in the floating treatment wetlands, thus the system is zero waste and self-sustaining.
This cooperative agreement will further the strategic goals and objectives of Gulf of Mexico Program and lead to a healthy and prosperous ecosystem.