There is a new threat to our rivers and springs, and it comes from within. Those who see Florida as land to be developed and money to be made are nipping and prodding here and there to see how they can squeeze more dollars from our land.
And to tear up the soil and cut down trees to make more homes to attract more people, to make more money, they need water. Which they don’t have.
Enter the age of water transfers. And the Central Florida Water Initiative. Since the Orlando, Kississimmee, Lakeland area is heavily populated, and the water supply is limited, developers, backed by our water managers, would like to move water from the St Johns River south to supply new homes and businesses.
Lisa Rinaman, St Johns Riverkeeper, exposes this somewhat covert plan which the CFWI has taken pains not to publicize.
Wednesday, July 29 @ 6 pm
The River House at Jacksonville University
2800 University Blvd. N., Jacksonville 32211
Central Florida wants to siphon the St. Johns to fuel further unsustainable growth. Learn about the plans to withdraw millions of gallons of water a day from our river.
Speakers include Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper, and Dr. Quinton White, Jr., Executive Director of JU’s Marine Science Research Institute.
Central Florida is reaching the sustainable limits of its predominant source of water, the Floridan Aquifer, with average total water use expected to continue to increase from approximately 800 million gallons a day (mgd) to about 1,100 mgd in 2035. As a result, the three water management districts in this five county area – the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), South Florida Water Management District and Southwest Florida Water Management District – created the Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) to identify alternative sources of water to meet demand.
In May 2015, the CFWI released an updated Draft Regional Water Supply Plan and the 2035 Water Resources Protection and Water Supply Strategies Plan to address future steps toward meeting the water supply needs of the CFWI Planning Area. These plans rely heavily on surface water withdrawals and not enough on proven, cost-effective conservation strategies. Of the projected 250 million gallon per day deficit, only 37 mgd is estimated to come from conservation initiatives. This is actually less than the 42 mgd that was originally projected in previous drafts.
According to the CFWI, 120 presentations and nine workshops were held from 2012 through 2014 “to educate the public and interested stakeholders and to receive comments about the process and the plans being developed.” Unfortunately, very little effort was made to educate and involve community leaders, elected officials, and the general public outside of Central Florida, despite the fact that communities downstream would potentially be impacted by the proposed surface water withdrawals from the St. Johns. The CFWI did not organize a public meeting in Northeast Florida until June 29, 2015, only a month prior to the July 31st public comment period deadline. At that meeting, surface water withdrawals were not even mentioned, until St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman raised the question.
As a result, St. Johns Riverkeeper is hosting this forum to raise awareness about the proposed water withdrawals and shortcomings of the CFWI plan and to engage the community in a public dialogue about this important issue.
Even if you can’t attend the forum, please submit your comments to the CFWI regarding the Draft Regional Water Supply Plan and the Draft 2035 Water Resources Protection and Water Supply Strategies Plan. Urge the CFWI to remove surface water withdrawal projects from the water supply plans and focus on conservation, reuse, and other more sustainable alternatives.
Again, it may seem necessary to add a disclaimer, as this the St Johns River, not the Santa Fe. But it should be made known that this same issue of water transfer has already been proposed, to move water from Lake Santa Fe , source of the river, to raise lake levels in the Keystone Lakes region. Bad idea, especially when we remember that the SFR is already 30 million gallons per day short, due to poor management and that it also happens to be an Outstanding Florida Water.