An Overdrawn Water Budget, Aquifer Decline, and the Possibility of Fracking in Florida

Iche springsOSFR applauds the action of the Ichetucknee Alliance board as outlined in the following article.Scroll
On June 25, 2015 at 09:05AM, at Ichetucknee Alliance published the following article:

Ichetucknee Alliance Position Paper
June 2015

The Ichetucknee Alliance is opposed to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Florida because the State of Florida cannot afford to lose the water that this process requires.

The Alliance bases this position on information that is available from the water supply plans prepared by the state’s water management districts as well as other sources of information about Florida’s water balance or water budget. The water budget is the amount of water that we receive from rainfall (our only source of water) versus the amount of water that we lose from runoff, evapotranspiration, and pumping.

The Alliance believes that, especially within the Suwannee River Water Management District, Florida’s water budget is overdrawn. The Alliance has called for a moratorium on the issuance of new large (over 100,000 gallons per day) water use permits in this district.

We also know that water use in one area of the state—for example, Jacksonville/Duval County in the St. Johns River Water Management District—can cause aquifer and flow declines in another part of the state—for example, Ichetucknee Springs/Columbia County in the Suwannee River Water Management District. Because of this situation, the Alliance supports statewide, mandatory water conservation—not the use of more water as required by fracking—for the restoration of the Ichetucknee.

Consider:

The U.S. Geological Survey reports examples showing that average water usage for one fracked well can range from 1.5 million gallons to 15.8 million gallons.(1)

“Most water management districts within the state have identified areas within which sources of water are projected to be inadequate to meet projected demands through 2020.”(2)

The Suwannee River Water Management District’s 2010 Water Supply Plan found that “…Upper Floridan aquifer groundwater levels in the northeastern portion of the District are in decline. This area includes parts of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Hamilton, Suwannee and Union counties….the aquifer level…has declined as much as 40 feet in northeast Florida and up to 20 feet in the northeastern section of the District. The Assessment concluded that these declines are predicted to impact District river and spring flows in certain areas during the 2010 to 2030 planning period.”(3)

Water use in Jacksonville is negatively affecting the area encompassed by the Suwannee River Water Management District, including Ichetucknee Springs:  “…since pre-development conditions (approximately the year 1930), there has been a westward shift in the position of the no-flow groundwater boundary in northeast Florida…also referred to as the groundwater divide. The shift has resulted in a loss of the groundwater contributing area to the District; therefore, further supporting predicted impacts to river and spring flows during the 2010 to 2030 planning period.”(4)

In its document titled “Minimum Flows and Levels for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers and Priority Springs,”(5) the Suwannee River Water Management District states that the Ichetucknee River is already below its assigned minimum flow and level (MFL):  “The Ichetucknee River is estimated to be in recovery with a deficit 3 cfs (2 mgd) in 2010.” (p. xviii) Yet the District is requiring no changes in water use by the current large (over 100,000 gallons per day) water use permit holders who contribute to the decline in flow and water quality in the Ichetucknee. To make matters worse, the District continues to issue large water use permits to additional applicants.

Based on these conditions already being experienced in Florida in 2015, the Ichetucknee Alliance opposes fracking in this state, especially within the St. Johns and/or Suwannee River water management districts.

**

(1)USGS, How much water does the typical hydraulically fractured well require? http://www.usgs.gov/faq/categories/10132/3824%20

(2)Southern Regional Water Program, A Partnership of USDA NIFA & Land Grant Colleges and Universities, “Water Quantity and Policy in Florida”
http://srwqis.tamu.edu/florida/program-information/florida-target-themes/water-quantity-policy/

(3)Suwannee River Water Management District, “Summary of the 2010 Water Supply Assessment”
http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/2295

(4)Suwannee River Water Management District, “Summary of the 2010 Water Supply Assessment”
http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/2295

(5)Minimum Flows and Levels for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers and Priority Springs
http://www.mysuwanneeriver.com/DocumentCenter/View/9023

Read this article from Ichetucknee Alliance at http://ichetuckneealliance.org/an-overdrawn-water-budget-aquifer-decline-and-the-possibility-of-fracking-in-florida/.
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