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In continuing an aggressive effort to restore one of the most polluted bodies of water in the state, representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, or FDEP, will host a community meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13, to discuss clean up efforts of Bayou Chico.

The meeting will involve discussion of the Bayou Chico Basin Management Action Plan, or BMAP. The meeting will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Escambia County Central Office Complex in central Pensacola. The meeting is open to the public.

The Bayou Chico watershed, located west of downtown Pensacola, represents a 10-square-mile drainage area into Pensacola Bay. Much of the area surrounding the bayou is extremely urbanized due to more than a century of heavy industrialized use along the bayou. The watershed consists of Jones Creek, Jackson Creek, Bayou Chico and Sanders Beach. Due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, these waterbodies in the Bayou Chico Basin have not been suitable for recreational use and often are under warnings for poor water quality.

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A view of Bayou Chico looking south towards the Gulf of Mexico. (Drew Buchanan/The Pulse)

In 2008, the DEP adopted water quality restoration targets that the BMAP aims to reach to improve water quality throughout the dangerously-polluted basin.

The action plan was developed in partnership with the City of Pensacola, Escambia County, the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), the Florida Department of Transportation, the Bayou Chico Association, Pensacola Naval Air Station, and the Bay Area Resource Council. The partnership identified projects and management actions needed to decrease bacteria in the Bayou Chico Basin.

The plan involves projects that will seek to improve water quality, including sanitary sewer expansion projects, stormwater improvements, pet waste ordinance adoption, septic tank inspections and Clean Marina and Boatyard Program implementation.

In November 2014, Escambia County received more than $11 million in funds resulting from fines from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred off the coast of Pensacola. The money stems from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Environmental Benefit Fund.

This suite of projects funded by the oil spill fines will continue implementation of the overall restoration of Bayou Chico. Other associated projects include restoration of historic Jones Creek and swamps in Warrington and continued implementation of the Southwest Escambia Greenway trail system spanning Bayou Chico to Tarkiln Bayou near Perdido Key.

You can read the BMAP here (large PDF).

For more information, contact Brent Wipf, Environmental Programs Manager for the Escambia County Water Quality & Land Management Division, at (850) 595-3445 or at [email protected].

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