Problem: how to increase flow of Silver Springs and River. Simple Solution: decrease groundwater pumping.
Instead we have the “Silver Springs and Aquifer Replenishment Project.” Read this nightmare of absurdity proposed by your taxpayer funded water managers, as described by Nathan Crabbe in the Gainesville Sun and which can be seen at this link. Have a can ready as you may toss your cookies.
Editorial: A really bad idea
Published: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 29, 2015 at 11:20 p.m.
Water management officials are worried. Under state law, they must set the minimum flows and levels for Silver Springs and the Silver River by this year.
Minimum flows and levels (MFLs) are mandated by law and denote the official water level at which “significant” environmental harm would come to the springs and river. Because spring and river flow are down sharply from historical averages, St. Johns River Water Management District officials are looking into ways to increase the flow. Among them is the “Silver Springs and Aquifer Replenishment Project.”
It is an undertaking that its coordinator says is in its infancy, but also one that should be worrisome for both environmental and economic reasons.
Finding a solution to the low flow is imperative. If the flow did fall below the MFL, the water district would have to curtail new water pumping permits in the watershed, which would curtail development.
Said Fred Roberts, vice chairman of the St. Johns district governing board, earlier this year: “This strategy is being drafted to address environmental concerns relating to the impacts of groundwater withdrawals on Silver Springs, while also ensuring that sufficient water is available for existing and new users.”
But what a way to go about it. The plan is a questionable three-pronged approach that calls for pumping by deep-well injection between 15-30 million gallons a day of new water into the springs.
First, the plan calls for building a pipeline from the Ocklawaha River to a new “wetland treatment area” located north of the springs. The Ocklawaha, however, is fed by the springs and also has below-average flow. So the plan would take water from a low-flowing river to replenish the low-flowing springs that feed it.
Second, the plan calls for pumping millions of gallons of treated wastewater into the wetlands. The water district and local governments have spent tens of millions of dollars moving wastewater facilities and sprayfields away from the springs. St. Johns officials note the water would have to be drinking water quality, and that it would be very expensive.
Finally, stormwater runoff would be the third source. Again, it would have to be highly treated at tremendous cost.
That the Silver Springs replenishment project is even on the drawing board is stunning. It calls for raiding a stressed Outstanding Florida Water and pumping wastewater and stormwater into the springs — all things water scientists have said repeatedly are injurious to the springs.
District officials say the replenishment project is merely an idea they are studying. Nonetheless, it seems like a really bad idea.
The good news, for once, is the whole thing would be exorbitantly expensive. District officials estimate overall project costs for injecting 15 million gallons a day at $87 million and 30 million gallons at $117 million.
Even better news: District officials say they are on the verge of unveiling a major conservation initiative that will engage the public and produce measurable results — and at a pittance of the cost of the replenishment project.