The latest presentation of “Water Voices” took place on Feb. 29 at Florida Gateway College in Lake City. Presenter was geologist and OSFR advisor Jim Gross of Gainesville, who spoke on “Up and Down With the Floridan Aquifer, a Big Picture View.” This presentation was totally professional, well thought out, logical in sequence and delivered in a clear and precise manner. Moderator Cathy Street, equally professional, handled the many questions from the interested audience.
Water Voices is organized by the Ichetucknee Alliance and co-sponsored by the Alliance, the Water Resources Program at Florida Gateway College, and Our Santa Fe River.
Approximately 55 people were in attendance and they got a very detailed look at that exactly is the Floridan aquifer, its history, how it is being used, what is happening to it, and its likely future. Some of the picture was a bit gloomy.
Jim broke the topic into several categories: The aquifer system (how much groundwater), withdrawals, who is pumping, myths and consequences, and sustainability. It was emphasized that our local area has the greatest flow in the entire aquifer with a high recharge (as well as discharge) area which explains why we have a high degree of vulnerability.
Under the “sustainability” category is where we see that our public water supply is and will be our greatest water user, and this does not bode well for the future population growth that is inevitable and on its way.
To cope with this Jim gives some suggestions which will be paramount if we are to survive. Two stand out: we must build coalitions in which we all have a stake in the outcome, which means sharing and no finger-pointing, as there are “no bad guys,” we are all equal. The other is that there must be leadership at all levels, from the smallest, most local on up to the top.
Observations by your writer: It does not take many brain cells to immediately see that our local levels are strong in leadership (start with the people at the meeting) but that it is non-existent at Florida’s top levels. No elected water authority or official was present at this informative meeting.