Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco ready to submit wish list for BP oil spill settlement

A beach park, a school campus devoted to environmental research, educational and economic development, and expanding the county sewer system to eliminate septic tanks are among 25 projects on a list to be submitted for possible funding from a settlement reached with BP after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The list, which ranks the projects according to federally established criteria, was developed by a committee of Pasco business leaders, elected officials and residents. County commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on the list, which will then be submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection. Funding for the settlement is being divided among five pots of money. Projects on this list would be considered for funding from the pot controlled mainly by federal officials. The county also will be given money based on a formula that it can allocate as it sees fit.

Pasco is among the counties that will get 25 percent of the funds awarded. Counties more directly affected by the spill will get 75 percent of the total amount.

Top-ranked on Pasco's list, the beach park would be adjacent to the proposed SunWest Harbourtowne development. That development also includes the dredging of a channel, a controversial aspect that recently was rejected by regulators. Also included are the installation of a culvert at Strauber Memorial Road and a berm at Werner Boyce State Park.

The school, ranked second, includes a combination of projects that would include a welcome center and conference facility at Werner Boyce, and establish an environmental career academy. A third phase would develop business partnerships and enhance ecotourism.

Others involve a regional reclaimed water system, artificial reef development and buying the Cross Bar and Al Bar ranches in central Pasco County. The ranches contain a well field that provides drinking water to 2.5 million people in the Tampa Bay area as well as wildlife habitat.

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