Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
by: Danielle Avitable, Action News Jax Updated:
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A plan to help the local water supply is causing controversy among neighbors.
The plan calls for millions of gallons to be pumped out of Black Creek to help replenish a local aquifer.
“I don’t want them to pump it at all, I don’t want them to do anything to the creek,” neighbor Sean Morgan said.
Morgan said he is speaking for his community that lives along Black Creek.
“No one’s happy with this, no one is happy with this situation at all,” Morgan said.
However, Executive Director Ann Shortelle with the St. Johns River Water Management District said the Black Creek Water Resource Development Project is only going to be beneficial for everyone.
“This is the one that makes the most economic sense, likely to be successful and done in a way to not be harmful to Black Creek,” Shortelle said.
The four-year project aims to pump 10 million gallons of water per day out of Black Creek during high-water periods. That water will be sent to the Keystone Heights area and discharged to an aquifer recharge system.
“The idea is to get more water into the aquifer, it disperses out and then it’s available for water uses throughout the area,” Shortelle said.
Shortelle said the district will be monitoring the water flow and it will be automated.
She also believes it could help with flooding in the area, but neighbors are concerned with the salinity of the creek.
“It’s going to bring brackish water in from the St. Johns River. It can completely destroy the ecosystem out here,” Morgan said.
Morgan said he created a petition this week to save the creek and stop the project in fear of it damaging the ecosystem.
“We plan to fight it every step of the way that we can,” neighbor Eric Rumpff said.
And in less than a week, more than 1,600 people have signed the petition.
“I thought it would be a pretty big outcome, but I didn’t think it would be that big this soon,” Morgan said.
The next meeting to discuss this project is Monday at 2 p.m. in Keystone Heights.
Vivian Katz, the president of the Save Our Lakes Organization, sent Action News Jax the following statement about the project:
“The Black Creek Project is a win-win for northeast Florida. This project will bring recharge to the Floridan Aquifer. Lakes Brooklyn and Geneva represent one of only two major recharge areas for the Aquifer. The Project as I understand it will only take excess water that would flow into Black Creek … excess is the operative word here. Black Creek is known to have flooding issues. If anything, the Black Creek project will have a positive impact on Black Creek, the Keystone lakes and the Floridan Aquifer.”