Critics: Plan to pipe Suwannee River water a nonstarter

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srwmd logoFOLLY In: Critics: Plan to pipe Suwannee River water a nonstarter | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

Antics like this are revealing to more and more people  the sham that is our water district which is going to desperate lengths to appear worthy of its existence.

OSFR board member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson is quoted in this article, about which we have posted earlier.

According to the article below  the water district said “water would be piped only when the Suwannee’s level is high and it has more water than it needs.”

We can foresee the district water scientists spending hundreds of man/woman hours debating that one, trying to come up with a definition of “high” which will allow them to take water even the the river is practically dried up.  If they follow the pattern of determining the Minimum Flows and Levels, they would revisit the definition every five years and increase the amount each time, using models not meant for that purpose and ignoring hard data before them and holding meaningless public input meetings.

Such is our water protection and management in Florida.

Such it is while we still have water to protect and manage.

Read the entire article here in the Gainesville Sun.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
[email protected]
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum

Critics: Plan to pipe Suwannee River water a nonstarter

Cindy Swirko

Gainesville Sun USA TODAY NETWORK  Saturday June 19, 2021

Scientists at the Suwannee River Water Management District are envisioning the piping of water from the Suwannee into the aquifer to replenish groundwater levels.

Critics are calling it a very expensive pipe dream.

A “conceptual idea” at this point, the potential transfer of water from the Suwannee into the underground network of tunnels and caverns is one of the options being floated for future action, said district water supply chief Amy Brown.

“The goal would be to transport the water and put it in a location where it would provide a regional aquifer benefit. That’s the thought process of that project,” Brown said. “Working on a recovery strategy, we need to consider water resource and supply projects, regulatory measures and conservation measures. Those are all things the district is required to consider by statutes.”

Environmental groups are critical of the idea. They believe it could cause more damage, would be a financial nightmare and does not address the reason aquifer and surface water levels are declining — too much pumping for household use and agriculture.

Among them are the coalition of groups that form the Florida Springs Council.

roadsryan2 In: Critics: Plan to pipe Suwannee River water a nonstarter | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
Ryan Smart

“It’s a ridiculous proposal from an environmental perspective and from a cost perspective,” council Executive Director Ryan Smart said. “The problem is clearly that they are permitting too much water to be used and the answer clearly is to reduce the amount of water that is being permitted.”

A presentation on piping was given recently to the district Governing Board. It has three options for spots from which to tap the Suwannee — one in White Springs and two near Branford.

The water would be piped to an area from which it would flow toward the Ichetucknee Springs system and the lower Santa Fe River.

Water would be piped only when the Suwannee’s level is high and it has more water than it needs to maintain the health of it and its estuary in the Gulf of Mexico.

Estimated costs for the White Springs option is $457 million plus $4.4 million a year for operation and maintenance.

Branford’s first option has an estimated price tag of $361 million with annual costs of $3.5 million. The second comes in at $209 million and annual upkeep of $2 million.

The estimates do not include potential costs of treating the water for nitrates, tannin and nutrients before sending it underground.

The St. Johns River Water Management District  has a similar project underway. It will pipe excess water from Black Creek to Alligator Creek. The water will flow into Lake Brooklyn in Keystone Heights and seep into the aquifer….

“The regulatory measures could include some sort of need to offset impacts or otherwise look at permits, but that would be one component in an overall recovery strategy,” Brown said. “At this point we have an obligation to gather as much information as we can, including taking feedback on projects. We’re gathering information and ideas.”

Merrillee Malwitz Jipson In: Critics: Plan to pipe Suwannee River water a nonstarter | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
Merrillee Malwitzi-Jipson

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River, a watchdog group, is among those who believe piping is a bad idea.

She used the recent decision by the district to renew a permit for withdrawals for a water bottler near Ginnie Springs while at the same time developing a water recovery plan because of declining levels to illustrate the irony of the piping idea.

“It’s outlandish. They want to bring water that is tannin and polluted and not the same type of chemistry into a fairly pristine water system,” Malwitz-Jipson said. “I’m disgusted … I can’t believe they actually came to a meeting with that information and presented it to the public.”

Smart said money would be better spent buying land and conservation easements from farmers to reduce water usage and reduce nutrients from fertilizer.

“Whenever we try to re-engineer natural systems instead of just protecting them it is way more expensive and it typically doesn’t work,” Smart said. “They are looking for an incredibly complex engineering answer to a very simple environmental question. It seems like there’s got to be a better use of time for the district than dreaming up pipe dreams.”


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