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SWFWMD sharply curtails funding for stormwater projects

The Southwest Florida Water Management District will decrease its available stormwater funding by tens of millions of dollars next fiscal year, affecting construction plans across Tampa Bay.

Non-water supply projects usually receive over $50 million annually from SWMFD's cooperative funding initiative. That number has now been reduced to about $2 million to $5 million, barring any new state funding, according to a presentation made in August.

The decision was made so SWFWMD could reallocate resources to alternative water supply projects, according to spokesperson Susanna Martinez Tarokh.

Ensuring adequate water supply for SWFWMD's 16-county region is the governing board's No. 1 priority, according to the August presentation. But reducing opportunities for non-water supply projects carries some consequences for local municipalities.

"It's impacted our stormwater projects at pretty much every level," city of Tampa Mobility Director Vik Bhide said. "Given the incredible partnership of SWFWMD historically, we had depended on about 50% of our capital funds for our projects to come from SWFWMD."