Jacksonville City Council members used the words moral responsibility when they made the decision to help clean up Wilson Bay. For more than 40 years, the City had discharged its treated waste water into the bay. The discharge came from the overtaxed Wilson Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was plagued with design problems caused by a federal requirement to use anaerobic bacteria treatment to treat wastewater. The system did not work and with ever increasing standards placed on the plant, City officials decided in the early 90s to abandon discharging into the New River and Wilson Bay and instead create a modern, expandable, and environmental friendly land application plant.
In 1998, the City ceased discharging into Wilson Bay and the New River with the completion of the Land Application Plant. It was then the City decided it was the right thing to do to help clean up the bay. With a grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the City used an innovative program of planting oysters, aeration, and stormwater mitigation to help clean the water column. The program has been a wonderful success and created many other opportunities including the transformation of the Wilson Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant into an environmental education center and park.