Central Florida is gearing up to withdraw millions of gallons
of water from the St. Johns River.
Here is some background about this issue:
" The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD)
has stated that central Florida has out-stripped the Floridan
aquifer's ability to provide a sustainable drinking water source
" The District has told communities they will have to seek
alternative water sources (AWS). The SJRWMD has stated that 155
million gallon days (MGD) can be "safely" removed from
the St. Johns River between the headwaters and State Road 44.
This number was based upon a study done by a consultant hired
by the district. The term "safely" applies to the District's
belief that 155 MGD withdrawal will not affect the aquatic health
of the river or its ecosystem. Not everyone agrees with that appraisal.
" At a July 18 meeting in Orlando, various cities and counties
submitted ~ 46 withdrawal projects/proposals vying for the 155
" Because river water has a high salt or mineral content,
most withdrawals will involve reverse osmosis, or RO. A by-product
of RO is high mineral content and/or very salty water. Also, RO
water is high in nutrients. The byproducts are called "concentrate".
The SJRWMD has recently started a study to document the problems
with concentrate on the river environment-the study will end in
a year. The SJRWMD may issue numerous withdrawal permits BEFORE
the study is complete.
" The SJRWMD is also focusing its attention on the lower
Ocklawaha River. Although District staff has not set an MFL, minimum
flow level, for the Ocklawaha River, the agency is telling counties
to expect to be able to withdraw 90 to 108 MGD from the river.
" The only county proposing to withdraw water from the River
that has a mandatory water conservation plan is Volusia County.
None of the other counties or municipalities that are planning
water withdrawals has mandatory water conservation programs.
" One of the largest water withdrawals, Yankee Lake, is planned
in an area just south of the Wekiva Aquatic Preserve! Also, this
plant will eventually discharge concentrate into the river.
" This current process will only provide drinking water needs
until 2025, less than 20 years into the future.
This is a huge issue that could have an enormous impact on the
St. Johns River. It could result in serious harm to the river.
Many of the adverse effects may not even become obvious for years
after the withdrawal projects have begun, when communities have
become completely dependent upon the river for their water. Also,
during peak flows, the SJRWMD is looking at "scalping"
water from the river and injecting it into the ground for storage
for later use. This procedure is called Aquifer Storage Recovery
(ASR) and could potentially contaminate our groundwater.
I strongly encourage everyone to contact your local, state, and
federal elected representatives, and tell them that you are concerned
about this issue. Let them know that we need to make water conservation
a priority before one drop of water is ever taken from the St.
Florida House of Representatives: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx
Governor Charlie Christ Charlie.Crist@myflorida.com Phone: 850-488-7146
St. Johns County Board of Commissioners http://www.co.st-johns.fl.us/BCC/Commissioners/index.aspx