Christopher Curry has written an article in the Gainesville Sun today about controversial water usage in the huge new development Plum Creek. Estimates for the proposed 60,000 acre development in Alachua County run from 2.35 million gallons per day to 6.28 million per day. Planned are 8 million square feet of industrial space and an astonishing 26,250 new residences.
The county is now reviewing this proposal as concerns exist over the effect this would have on the water resources of the area, the springs, rivers, lakes and the aquifer.
Plum Creek developers are quick to point out the many innovations and restrictions they plan on implementing so that the end result would be approximately 50% of the water use that comparable existing developments require today.
Doubts remain as to the feasibility of reaching this goal. Chris Bird, of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, says the legality of some of the restrictions have not been established and must yet be determined. Bob Palmer, a board member of local environmental group Ichetucknee Alliance and the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, has reservations about the project, both concerning the likelihood of achieving the goal, and the immensity of the water withdrawals.
Unfortunately, Florida is changing in a way that many residents do not like. Huge developments are done to make money and jobs for people who are not even here yet. This project seems to be trying very hard to lessen the impact it will have, but we must remember that it will take its toll on the aquifer, even if it reaches its goal. Half of a huge drawdown is better than all of a huge drawdown, but worse than none. How many more halves can we afford? When will we reach the point where we must limit developments, industrial projects and yes, even agriculture the untouchable golden boy? Water conservation is laudable and we applaud it, but there are limits and we must be strong and honest enough to recognize them.