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Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
The monthly meeting of the Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board was held in Alachua on Tues. Nov. 8. A quorum of board members was present and plenty of staff, but the public attandance was a bit sparse compared to most meetings.
Mike Roth is an OSFR member but he spoke as a citizen threatened by the Sabal Trail pipeline, now pumping water out of the Santa Fe River to use for drilling. Mr. Roth voiced his concerns for the safety of the environment.
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, representing Sierra Club expressed her concerns over the same situation. Chairman Quincey informed her that Sabal Trail appears to be in compliance with due regulations and thus, the district is not in a position to take action.
Ironically, the board approved in this meeting the final legal agreement to give Florida Gas Transmission Company, LLC, for a sum of $5090.00, certain property rights needed by them to cross district property consisting of a conservation easement. Contract was drawn up by (again, ironically) Sharma Eminent Domain Lawyers of Orlando. Once more the opinion was expressed that litigation would be in vain, and the overall cost of contesting would be much higher.
In other business, Tom Kay, executive director of the Alachua Conservation Trust, spoke in regard to the possibility of sharing in the acquisition and/or management of Rock Bluff Spring in Gilchrist County. All agreed that the property is special and merits serious consideration. The Alachua Conservation Trust extends much beyond just Alachua County and since 1988 has nominated over 50,000 acres for conservation and has directly participated in the purchase of 17,000 acres. When measured by the amount and value of land protected, Alachua Conservation Trust is second in Florida among local land trusts.
Carlos Herd gave a rundown on the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan (2010 – 2035.) He reminded all that the deadline for submitting public input is December 5, 2016. The second and final workshop was held last week in Live Oak (see Water Supply Plan Workshop.)
The meeting was adjourned and two workshops continued, one with the RO Ranch being discussed, and the second was a Water Use Permitting Overview by senior hydrologist Warren Zwanka. Mr. Zwanka outlined the general rules and guidelines which must be followed when assigning a water use permit to a property.
Of interest to your writer was the harm analysis forecast which includes cumulative impacts and signs of stress which show up best in wetlands. A potentiometric surface map of the Suwannee River Water Management District area depicts water levels in the Floridan aquifer. The level variation is depicted by contours something like an elevation map, with arrows indicating the direction of water flow in the aquifer.
Areas of varying elevation are determined by recharge amounts and the consistency of the substance of the aquifer, and they are separated by hydrologic divides, or changes in levels. Areas tend to retain their independence as they are: somewhat like a group of buckets or cans of varying heights and water amounts within the groundwater area. This explains why a withdrawal from one area does not necessarily affect all of the surrounding area with a consistent and similar drawdown , i.e. bathtub draining effect. It also explains why the location of a well withdrawal is of paramount importance in regard to impact on the aquifer.
Our thanks go to Mr. Zwanka for making this understandable to a layman.