City of Keystone Heights 2016 Water Summit
This Water Summit was organized from the efforts of the group Save Our Lakes Organization (SOLO) of Keystone Heights combined with the City of Keystone Heights. Among those attending were Congressmen Ted Yoho and Rob Bradley, DEP representative Drew Pearson, Dr. Ann Shortelle, Jon Miklos and two others from the St. Johns River Water Management District, Carlos Herd of the Suwannee River Water Management District, county and city commissioners, representatives from Camp Blanding and many others, including Vivian Katz and others from SOLO.
Even though the topic of the summit was the upper basin of the Santa Fe River, not invited to this large group were representatives from environmental groups, but some were present in the audience– Bob Palmer of Florida Springs Council, Karen Chadwick of Putnam County Environmental Council, your historian from OSFR, Kate Ellis and Dave Wilcox who work in Clay and Bradford Counties. Others who might have contributed were the St Johns Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Ichetucknee Alliance, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and Bob Knight.
Key speaker at this summit/workshop was Peter Schreuder of Schreuder, Inc. of Tampa, FL, who was commissioned by SOLO do a 53-page report on how best to restore lake levels in the Keystone Heights chain of lakes. Homeowners on the lakes have been concerned about lowering lake waters, and the accompanying lowering of property values, since the 1970s when over-pumping in the area began causing a drop in aquifer levels.
Peter Schreuder of Schreuder, Inc. Tampa Florida
Dr. Bob Palmer, FL. Springs Council Karen Chadwick Kate Ellison
Drew Bartlett, Florida DEP
Dr. Paul Still Carlos Herd SRWMD
In addition to the primary goal of raising lake levels are the secondary goals of flood prevention, increasing surface water in the upper Santa Fe River, and enhancing recharge to the upper Floridan aquifer.
One of the proposals is to increase flows from the lake known as Southwest Quadrant or Southwest Lake to Blue Pond. An 8-inch pipe now exists to carry water but the proposal calls for a 24-inch pipe and accompanying pump with a capacity of 8,500 GPD. This would be at a cost of $1.3 to $1.5 million, but would recoup water from the old mine area of Chemours Mine and divert into the lake chain through Blue Pond.
A complementary coin, candy and bottle of water for Mr. Bartlett. I wonder if Mr. Bartlett knows that the nitrates in his bottle of water may quite possibly exceed EPA limits?
Additional water could be imported to increase surface water flows in the Upper Santa Fe, and to re-hydrate the dried out wetlands in eastern Bradford County. There is plenty of land at Chemours Trail Ridge and Highlands mine to create adequately effective wetland treatment systems to use wastewater from several sources. These sources could include the wastewater treatment plants in the Cities of Starke, Green Cove Springs, Palatka, and especially the Jacksonville Electric Association, which uses tremendous quantities of water.
Congressmen Rob Bradley, Ted Yoho, Dr. Ann Shortelle and Jon Miklos from St Johns River Water Management District. Standing behind Dr. Shortelle is Karen Chadwick of Putnam County Environmental Council.
The initial step agreed upon by the group is that the city would initiate action to employ a preliminary engineering report to present to the district for acceptance as a project.
Concerns expressed by your historian is that no one questioned the science behind these proposals nor their possible effects on the Santa Fe River. Dr. Shortelle, in her comments, mentioned that no matter which project was initiated, we should be mindful of the possible effects downstream on the lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee. Your historian supported Dr. Shortelle in this and pointed out that the upper Santa Fe is impaired and not meeting its MFLs, and therefore even more caution should be used before any major change is introduced. He suggested other scientists should view the proposal before large pipes are installed to move millions of gallons of water from place to place. No offense at all meant to Mr. Schreuder, but we should keep in mind he is a consultant to the mining industry and is not an environmentalist. Any project taking over a million dollars of taxpayer money should be reviewed by more than one expert.
As for the general public, the only other speaker was Kate Ellison who suggested that money for such a project might be found in the Amendment 1 funds.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Invited guests only were seated inside. Interested public were accommodated outside with shade, seating, sound and occasional video of what was happening inside.