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News Continued

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 beyond 2013.
" 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 MGD.
" 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. Johns River.

Florida Senate:


Florida House of Representatives:

Governor Charlie Christ Phone: 850-488-7146

St. Johns County Board of Commissioners