Aquatic Services Manager Carla Burrmann updated the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on projects that are currently funded by the RESTORE Act Oil Spill Impact Allocation. RESTORE is the acronym for “Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States.”
In July 2012, President Obama passed the RESTORE Act, which directs 80 percent of civil and administrative Clean Water Act penalties levied in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred on April 10, 2010. The funds collected are placed in a Restoration Trust Fund (RTF) and then channeled through five different “pots” of funding. Funding will be complete for the RESTORE Act in 2031.
Hernando County receives funding from Pots 1 and 3. Pot 1 is a Multi-Year Implementation Plan (MYIP) and is administered by the United States Treasury Department. Projects receiving funding from this mechanism require a grant application to be submitted.
The total of Pot 1 allocated to Hernando County through Fiscal Year 2031 is $4,644,045.
The main funding source for Hernando County is Pot 3 Funds. These projects have already been approved as part of a State Expenditure Plan (SEP). For this, Hernando County receives $12,660,000. This amount of funding will not increase.
Projects that qualify for RESTORE Act funds include mitigation, restoration, and protection of natural resources, marine, coastal, and conservation plans, improvements to affected state parks, and promotion of tourism, seafood consumption, workforce development and job creation.
Projects funded by Pot 1 are the current Linda Pedersen Park improvement project ($561,000) and Bayou Drive Improvements ($737,500). There is currently $1,229,054 in remaining funds that may be allocated to other projects. To use these funds, another project will need to be identified and approved.
Commissioner Brian Hawkins suggested eelgrass restoration to protect coastal areas while using existing funding. Chairman John Allocco recommended the Pine Island canal dredging be considered, a project that has been deferred in previous years. No decisions were made during this meeting, and discussions will continue.
Pot 3 is the Spill Impact Allocation, which currently funds the artificial reef project ($2,405,070). Other projects funded through this allocation are Coastal Habitat ($807,421), Waterway/Gulf Access Program ($4,478,025), Septic to Sewer Conversion ($2,582,410) and
Calienta Street ($4,682,788).
County Administrator Jeff Rogers expects to see projects removed from Pot 3 as costs for these projects continue to rise. “Not all of those projects will be able to stay (on the list).”