Helping Bayou Chico get back to health

Maurice Johnson pulls in an aluminum can while fishing on Bayou Chico. Johnson has been in the area for 14 years and fishes along Bayou Chico a few times a month. Michael Spooneybarger/ Pensacola Today

Attention lovers of Bayou Chico.

Officials from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will host a community meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13, from 9 a.m. to noon to discuss the Bayou Chico Basin Management Action Plan. The meeting is at the Escambia County Central Office Complex, located at 3363 W. Park Place and is open to the public.

In 2008, FDEP adopted water quality restoration targets to decrease fecal coliform bacteria in the six waterbody segments within the Bayou Chico watershed. The plan represents a collaborative effort between local, regional and state interests, and includes the following specific actions:

— Highly integrated local stakeholder communication and response to source identification protocols.

— Wastewater infrastructure repairs and upgrades.

— Sanitary sewer expansion projects; increased stormwater system maintenance management.

— Septic tank regulation and ordinance.

— Public education and outreach.

— Enhanced water quality monitoring programs.

In 2014, Escambia County officials received $11 million toward restoration projects in the bayou’s watershed area.

That money came from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, created 18 months ago as part of the settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP and Transocean to resolve certain criminal charges against both companies in relation to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

For more information, contact Brent Wipf, Environmental Programs Manager for the Escambia County Water Quality & Land Management Division, at (850) 595-3445 or at bawipf@myescambia.com.