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American Beach Water & Sewer Conversion Project Groundbreaking

Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Division of Water Restoration Assistance
Program Area: 
Division of Water Restoration Assistance (General)

DEP is proud to be part of these important projects that will provide the historic community of American Beach on Amelia Island with a new water distribution system and wastewater collection system. American Beach received more than $12 million in funding for these drinking water and wastewater projects through a Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act’s Small, Underserved, and Disadvantaged Communities grant, legislative appropriation grant and low-interest State Revolving Fund loans, most of which will not have to be repaid by the community.

American Beach, located on Amelia Island in Nassau County, is a historic African American beach community. Founded in 1935 by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, American Beach was created as a vacation haven for African Americans denied access to other resorts prior to desegregation. In the early 1930s, A.L. Lewis became president of Florida's first insurance company, the Afro-American Life Insurance Company in Jacksonville, and was Florida’s first African American millionaire. He bought 200 acres of prime Florida beachfront so his employees could enjoy the Florida shore. Over 70 years later, in January 2002, American Beach was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

To this day, American Beach continues to rely on ground wells and septic tanks for water and sewer service. Nassau Amelia Utility (NAU) and Nassau County (County) have identified a need to improve the level of water service for American Beach residents by constructing water infrastructure. This undertaking would provide a safe and reliable water system that will improve the health and welfare of the community.

American Beach consists of approximately 323 lots, some of which contain occupied or vacant residential dwellings, and a hotel—the American Beach Villas. The northwest portion of American Beach and the area east of Ocean Boulevard has gradual topographic changes in elevations. However, the area along Waldron Street and Ocean Boulevard has more significant topographic changes in elevations and is known as the "ridge" or "sand dune.”

Many private residences throughout Amelia Island, including all of American Beach, are served by private wells. According to the Nassau County 2030 Comprehensive Plan approximately 51% of the Nassau County’s total population obtains its potable water through small public systems or private wells. Many of these wells in American Beach have become compromised (bad water quality, old age, etc.) and it is not unusual to see neighbors use inventive methods (read: hoses) to share water across lots.

Drinking water can expose people to a variety of harmful pollutants and pathogens. Public water systems use water treatment and monitoring to protect consumers from such contaminants. Generally, private wells do not receive the same services that wells supplying the public do.

To improve the drinking water quality supply and wastewater services to the American Beach Community, Nassau County and Florida Governmental Utilities Authority (FGUA) collaborated to create the American Beach Water & Sewer District, which proposed to install new potable water mains and a wastewater collection system to service each of the 287 parcels within the service area. Planning and design activities for the project were partially funded by the FDEP’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and Clean Water SRF programs, along with funding from legislative appropriations and local contribution. Construction of the drinking water portion is partially funded by a Small and Disadvantaged Communities Drinking Water Grant (2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act) awarded by the FDEP’s Division of Water Restoration Assistance as well as a DWSRF construction loan with principal forgiveness. The wastewater portion of the construction is funded through a CWSRF construction loan with principal forgiveness.

Last Modified:
October 5, 2022 - 11:54am

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