Aquifer Storage and Recharge at SRWMD 2016-2021
If you continue reading below, you will see a proposed joint project with the two water management districts within which the Santa Fe River basin resides, SRWMD and SJRWMD. In sum, the project is to siphon water off the upper Suwannee River during high water and transport it by pumping 11 miles through a 4’ diameter pipe to Falling Creek Sink where it will be put into the aquifer for “storage and recharge.” This will cost 48 million dollars of taxpayer money.
John Quarterman, of WWALS, asks some questions regarding this, the very first being, “Why not limit water withdrawals, as environmentalists have repeatedly requested, for years.
Another is, why is St. Johns involved, and why is this the only project listed in the Update that is joint with this water management district (WMD?)
Need for this project is listed as: “Protect/enhance spring flows, Protect/enhance river flows, and Provide sustainable water supplies.”
Quarterman asks, “Sustainable for whom? He thinks maybe Jacksonville, because of maps showing drawdown and confinement areas in this proposal. He also cites a similar plan proposed for aquifer storage and recovery of Flint River water near Albany, GA to be eventually shipped to Atlanta. He cites a 2013 study, “Upper Floridan Aquifer Regional Recharge Concepts and Feasibility Study by Atkins written for SRWMD which links Suwannee River Aquifer Recharge projects with the suspected area, St Johns River and the St Marys River. One surface water source evaluated for aquifer recharge was “Upper Suwannee River from the Florida-Georgia border to its confluence with the Alapaha River.
Now, that is quite a coincidence.
On Feb. 9, at the SRWMD monthly Governing Board meeting, a public hearing will be held on their “Draft 2017-2021 Strategic Plan,” which on page two has the following:
Natural connections to the Floridian aquifer are being restored
through noteworthy projects such as Brooks Sink and the Middle
Suwannee River and Springs Restoration and Aquifer Recharge project.
Collectively, these projects will recharge the aquifer daily with
millions of gallons of water.
And on page eight is “Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge Project.”
Quarterman’s questions are all pertinent and need to be answered. A discussion with Dr. Robert Knight revealed one further observation, that the water being put into the aquifer with this proposal will not be pure rainwater, but instead dark river water with its tannin and other additives which are not found in our pure aquifer water.
In September 2013, the District completed a regional study (Study)
of potential regionally-beneficial aquifer recharge concepts in a
cooperative effort with the St. Johns River Water Management
District (SJRWMD). The Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge Project
(Project) is a concept that was developed from that Study. The
Project involves pumping up to a maximum daily capacity of 40 mgd
from the Upper Suwannee River to District-owned land in Falling
Creek Falls Park, where it will discharge to Falling Creek,
eventually recharging the UFA through Falling Creek Sink (Sink).
During high stages in the Upper Suwannee River, water will be
diverted to an intake structure and pump station (consisting of
intake screens, intake piping, and a pump station) and pumped to
Falling Creek through an approximate 48-inch diameter, 11-mile
pipeline. The pipeline will be constructed in existing roadway
easements. Falling Creek naturally recharges the UFA via the Sink
without treatment; therefore, it is anticipated that the surface
water from the Upper Suwannee River will also not require treatment
due to the high water quality at the intake location which is near
White Springs, Florida. The preliminary design will include
surface-water quality testing and analysis. Groundwater modeling
analysis conducted during the Study indicated that the Project will
benefit aquifer levels and spring flows in the Lower Santa Fe River.
The estimated capital cost is $48,000,000.