More water quality money coming to Monroe County from Washington means the Keys’ crystal clear waters will remain like this for years to come. NOAA/Contributed

The Florida Keys’ being nearly free of septic tanks and cesspits means near-shore water quality has improved vastly, and with more federal funding on the way, improvements will continue. 

In February, a delegation of Keys officials lobbied for environmental funds for the Florida Keys Water Quality Improvement Program (FKWQIP), which works to improve public and environmental health through the construction of advanced wastewater treatment systems.

It was announced Wednesday, June 13 the Keys will receive $4 million in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding this year through the water quality improvement program, $1 million of which will go to the city of Marathon.

The congressionally authorized program supports wastewater treatment for Marathon, the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District and the village of Islamorada.

“This year’s robust funding is the highest amount allocated in several years, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for and support federal funding for this critical program,” said U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. “I’m grateful that the Florida Keys Water Quality Improvements Project was just allocated another $4 million to continue its essential work on wastewater treatment systems that protect and restore the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s near-shore waters.”

Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey said the funds will provide jobs, stimulate the regional economy and help to meet the program’s water quality standards, designed to protect and restore the near-shore waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

“We are extremely grateful to our Washington, D.C., officials, especially Congressman Curbelo, who has championed this effort year after year,” said Marathon Mayor Michelle Coldiron. 

Curbelo has referred to the Keys as a “national treasure” and said water treatment standards here are four times more stringent than most other parts of the nation.

The Florida Keys Water Quality Improvement Act was passed by Congress in 2000. It approved spending up to $100 million on wastewater funding.

Key Largo and Marathon completed their sewer projects in 2010 while Islamorada concluded work in December 2015. 

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