Bayou Chico contaminated sediment remediation project begins

After decades of work to improve water quality in Bayou Chico, Escambia County will kick off the next phase of restoration June 2021.

The county has engaged AECOM, a global infrastructure consulting firm with leading environmental remediation expertise, to oversee planning and design of the Bayou Chico Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project. Beginning this summer, staff will survey and sample Bayou Chico to quantify and qualify contaminated sediment distribution. Once field work is complete, a series of remediation strategies will be recommended to proceed to design.

“We’re excited to launch the next phase of Bayou Chico’s restoration,” said RESTORE Program Manager Matt Posner. “There is a lot of work to be done and our team is ready for the task.”

A historic working waterfront, sediments in Bayou Chico have long been degraded by legacy contaminates resulting from timber treatment operations, shipbuilding and untreated storm-water runoff, among other factors. The project builds on significant investment made since the 1990s by numerous partners and stakeholders, including Escambia County, the City of Pensacola and Emerald Coast Utilities Authority, to address storm-water and sanitary sewer concerns.

Once implemented, the project is intended to improve sediment and water quality, restore benthic invertebrate habitat and enhance the economic and recreational opportunities across the Bayou.

The Bayou Chico Contaminated Sediment Remediation Project is made possible from a recently awarded $1.1 million RESTORE Pot 3 grant from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and Gulf Consortium to the County to complete sediment analysis, design and permitting. This grant award leverages a $330,000 RESTORE Pot 2 grant received from Florida Department of Environmental Protection to assist with design.

“The work our county RESTORE team is doing is invaluable to our waterways and the wellbeing of our community,” said District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill. “We are proud of the RESTORE team who has worked tirelessly over the past two years to earn their recently awarded planning grant.”

Sediment analysis will begin this summer with design anticipated to be finalized in fall 2022. Multiple community engagement opportunities will be provided throughout project design.

Regular communication activities are planned as part of this project, so that all interested parties are kept up-to-date. You can find more information about the project, as well as the latest news and updates at the Bayou Chico Restoration webpage here.

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