State allocates $3.5M toward Wekiwa Springs cleanup



SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - The state is about to spend millions of dollars to clean up Wekiwa Springs State Park.

Gov. Rick Scott came to central Florida Wednesday to announce a project that will allocate $10 million in state funding to clean up water and springs across the state.

With money from the cities of Apopka and Altamonte Springs, $3.5 million will go directly to undoing years of damage to Wekiwa Springs.

Once pristine, the Wekiwa Springs have slowly become suffocated by algae, leaves and debris.

The nutrient levels in the water are five times higher than the state considers safe.

Supporters of the springs argue the state has ignored the problem for far too long.

"It's not just $10 million. Because of local matches, it's going to be a total of $37 million that's going to be invested," Scott said.

"We looked: Where can the environment get the best bang for the buck?" Herschel Vinyard, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said.

Another critical factor is where community pressure demanding state action has been the greatest.

Supporters of Wekiwa Springs say action has been needed to keep waters safe for families and wildlife.

"This is a twofer -- we remove the nutrients that are currently going into the river, and those nutrients are causing those harmful algae blooms, and the city of Apopka can use the water, so there's less demand on the groundwater," Vinyard said.