The latest Newsletter from the Suwannee-St Johns Group Sierra Club contains a letter written from them to the St Johns River Water Management District regarding the dangerous and radical plan proposed by the Central Florida Water Iniative.
There is nothing sound in this proposal, contrary to the misleading and erroneous impressions implied by this group’s website:
Through the CFWI, the St. Johns River, South Florida, and Southwest Florida water management districts worked collaboratively with other agencies and stakeholders to develop the area’s first multi-district Regional Water Supply Plan to identify sustainable water source options and potential projects to meet projected demands while protecting, conserving and restoring water resources.
Our thanks go to Whitey Markle and the SSJGSC for allowing us to share their letter, and also to Lisa Rinaman and the St Johns Riverkeeper, who have also worked hard to expose this desperate thinking.
THE FOLLOWING ARE COMMENTS SUBMITTED BY THE SUWANNEE/ST.JOHNS SIERRA CLUB GROUP 8/16/2015 to the ST JOHNS RIVER WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT re: The CENTRAL FLORIDA WATER INITIATIVE.
The Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club encompasses 16 counties of North Florida. The Central Florida Water Initiative is of grave concern for our 1985 members who will be adversely affected by the Plan if it is implemented the way it is written; The surface waters of our Group’s responsibility will be further degraded and depleted as well as the groundwater.
The solutions to the problem of providing sufficient water for additional growth in the central Florida region proposed in the Plan appear to be mere desperate attempts at supply when there is no supply available, and there is nearly NO water conservation in this draft. Of the projected 250 million gallon per day (mgd) water deficit in the Central Florida region, 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.
The method of “injection” of used water BACK INTO OUR DRINKING WATER is a dangerous and irresponsible attempt at conservation. We think that the people own the water under us, not the influential politicians in Tallahassee, Palm Beach, Palatka, or Brooksville. Some of the “projects” the Water Management Districts are giving away in the form of “cost-sharing” (some are 90% to 10%) are preposterous, and they will NOT accomplish any sort of conservation, only further depletion of the good ground water, and there is not nearly enough funding in the budgets to accomplish sufficient project effectiveness, as well as oversight, milestones, and monitoring.
The truth to the dilemma is that there are simply too many people in Central Florida now and a growth in human population is erroneous policy. Unless new population is carefully planned, including water use, we will be far short of adequate fresh water. At this point, a pound of Nitrogen (our biggest water polluter) costs a farmer, golf course owner, gardener, or homeowner a mere 50 cents to apply, but if we keep applying fertilizers at the present rate , but when the water budget becomes deficient, it will cost the taxpayers and ratepayers $500 per pound to remove. We believe your solutions to Central Florida’s water supply are short-term, temporary, and extremely costly in the long term.
We realize the political nature of your position(s) in the state government, but we emphasize your responsibility regardless of politics. Entities such as Agriculture, municipalities, and development must sooner or later reach the reality that the citizens’ water is not infinite and not free (as it has been to date). There must be a plan to start paying for the water sooner or later. Citizens have to pay for it and so should farmers and developers, and like other businesses, they should foot the bill for monitoring water usage. It is time to get serious, not to “kick the can”.
We believe your weighting of the citizens in the stakeholder analysis, although appearing to be few in their number of representatives (volunteer), far outweigh any of the others. It is the citizens who will eventually pay the extremely high price of reclaimed, recycled, and refined water.
Our Suwannee/St. Johns Group takes pride in being the bastion of ecotourism which is dependent upon clean, fresh water. “Alternative Water Supply” designs, such as declaring Rodman Pool/Reservoir to be a supply source, will cripple the ecotourism industry in Marion and Putnam Counties which is environmentally sensitive, economical, and educational. Conservation by agriculture, development, and the municipalities must be entered into your Central Florida Water Initiative as opposed to further draining and pumping the surface water.
We suggest that you postpone the Central Florida Water Initiative until you can assure the citizens that their fresh water will be protected and conserved in a meaningful long-term.
Whitey Markle, Conservation Chair,
Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club Group