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Our groundwater upon which we depend for our drinking is a thin lens underlain by saltwater deposited over millions of years. Jim Gross, Gainesville geologist and water scientist explains in the Gainesville Sun how delicate our aquifer is, and how another drought could be very damaging.
If we avoid pumping too much and too deep, we can avoid saltwater encroachment. One might imagine that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection would endorse such a strategy for managing the Floridan aquifer system. But instead, DEP is now proposing rules to incentivize unsustainable withdrawals from deep in the Floridan aquifer system. The proposed rules would allow fresh groundwater to be identified as an alternative water supply source, and provide subsidies from tax revenues for construction of wells that will deplete our freshwater endowment. This is profoundly imprudent public policy.
In his article Jim Gross refers to the 2011 Florida Geological Survey bulletin which acknowledges the risk to our aquifer. This is ample evidence that our DEP has been aware of this situation for some time.
The article can be read in its entirety here. It is a warning that we must change our attitude toward water usage and dispensing unlimited free water. This is a message our water managers do not want to hear. They want to continue what is not working instead of facing reality and using common sense.
Jim Gross was a water scientist for more than 12 years with the St Johns River Water Management District, until last February he was forced to resign from his position. Our water managers need to heed his voice and other unbiased scientists who say the same thing. OSFR is proud to say that Jim Gross is an official advisor to our organization.