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Oakland receives $2 million for stormwater harvesting project

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Ellie Nassrallah

Freelance reporter

Wednesday, July 5, 2023


Paul Morrison/VoxPopuli

The $2 million budget appropriation will fund 45 percent of Oakland's stormwater harvesting project, which will allow the town to reduce its reliance on using drinking water for irrigation.

The town of Oakland received a $2 million appropriation from the 2023-2024 state budget , which went into effect July 1, to help fund its stormwater harvesting project. Storm water collection will enable the town to reduce its reliance on drinking water for irrigation. The town taps about 50 percent of its potable water for irrigation now.

The bipartisan appropriation, which will fund 45 percent of the project, was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, who represents District 15, and Republican Rep. Carolina Amesty of House District 45.

“West Orange County is growing rapidly, and I am concerned about water quality and scarcity,” Thompson said in a statement to VoxPopuli. “This project will enable Oakland to treat, use and reclaim stormwater for irrigation purposes as outlined in the Local Funding Request.”

The town is also utilizing $782,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project along with $1,618,000 in local funds, according to the funding request documents. The project's total cost is $4.4 million, and it's expected to break ground in June 2024.

Oakland had been searching for an alternative source of irrigation water since 2006 to avoid exceeding its consumptive use permit, which dictates how much of the hundreds of millions of gallons of water taken each day from Florida’s aquifer Oakland can access. After experimenting with a few methods that didn’t yield much water, town leaders embraced stormwater harvesting in 2017.

This water conservation operation, previously reported by VoxPopuli, is known simply as the Oakland Alternative Water Project. It involves capturing rainwater in a storm canal in the Hull Island at Oakland subdivision before it reaches Lake Apopka. Water will then be filtered and treated with chlorine at a treatment plant to be constructed off of Hull Island Drive.

Housing built since 2016, like the 905 homes in the Hull Island at Oakland, Longleaf at Oakland, Oakland Trails and The Briley Farms subdivisions and The Avenue on Oakland's 342-unit apartment complex, have all been constructed with dual water lines in anticipation of connecting to this alternative source of irrigation water. 

The 155 homes in Hull Island at Oakland will be the first to be connected, Mike Parker, Oakland's public works director, told VoxPopuli in an email on Wednesday. "Once conveyance pipelines are in place, which could take several years, other neighborhoods will be connected," he wrote. 

Parker added that town leaders "envision some commercial properties connecting as the conveyance lines pass them."

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