What does Ocala have going for it? What makes Ocala special? What about Silver Springs? Where else will you find something like that? Short-sighted “leaders” do not realize the treasure they have. They think only of money.
If Mike Register takes the time to look, he will see that the spring’s flow has already declined and that this reduction has already harmed the spring and the wildlife that depend on it. About 32 per cent, Mr. Register.
If James Gooding takes the time to think, he will realize that indeed the city will have to conserve and reuse more water in the future, no matter what. This will happen with more development and people, no matter how fast you kill Silver Springs.
We would ask the City Council where they would stop reducing the flow. How many tiny cuts can the elephant take until it bleeds to death?
If the city leaders think they can rely on the science of the water management district to protect their river, they are living in a bubble.
So much has been written about the shortcomings of the St Johns River Water Management District they have to be aware of the situation. Just last week a respected water scientist called on Executive Director Ann Shortelle to step down for not providing leadership, and there have been ethics charges and complaints of corruption against governing board chairman John Miklos.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
City sides with regulators on reduced Silver Springs flow
Karen Chadwick said in her petition against the water agency that allowing an additional 2.5 percent decline in flow would damage the river. The Ocala City Council voted 4-0 Tuesday, with a councilwoman absent, to support the water district.
The reduced flow would essentially allow additional groundwater pumping. At current pumping rates and expected population growth, the water district staff estimates the new flow levels will be exceeded by 2024.
The council intervened at the request of Assistant City Attorney James Gooding, who told them that water district board member Fred Roberts asked the city to intervene on behalf of the water district.
Gooding said that given the new flow standards, the city’s costs to provide water to customers will increase by millions of dollars because the water district will require the city to conserve and reuse more water in the future. He also said if Judge E. Gary Early rules against the water district and does not allow any additional flow declines, it would cost the city a lot more.
Mike Register, the water district’s division director for water supply, told the City Council that the district is confident its calculations are correct in how much the spring’s flow could decline before it harmed the spring and the wildlife that depend on it.
The spring’s flow has decreased 32 percent since the 1930s. Much of the decline, environmentalists say, is due to overpumping of the aquifer. The water district contends the reduction is because of a long drought.
Only Mayor Kent Guinn asked that someone explain the springs’ fluctuations in flow over the years.
None of the other council members asked questions about the flow issue.
Councilman Matthew Wardell asked if the petition would impact the state funding the city receives to pay for hooking residential properties up to the city’s wastewater treatment system.
Under the new Minimum Flow Levels, the spring flow could drop an additional 17 cubic feet per second (about 10 million gallons per day) without doing significant harm to wildlife in and around the 4.5 mile-long spring and river, the water district says.
In 2013, the water agency staff proposed a Silver Springs MFL more stringent than what it is proposing today. The water agency also announced about that time that it had miscalculated and had issued too many pumping permits, making up about 20 cfs of flow in the spring. Eventually, the agency backed away from that admission.
Register said the agency’s scientists now use much better computer modeling to evaluate the data, justifying the lower proposed MFL.
Reach Fred Hiers at [email protected] and 352-397-5914.