Aquifer Storage and Recharge at SRWMD 2016-02-09

Update 2023-01-31: Fixed image links that broke when the reference documents vanished from the web.

Public Hearing about the $48 million Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge project and its 48-inch 11-mile pipeline, and several others also involving the upper Suwannee River, 9AM Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, at SRWMD headquarters in Live Oak. Wouldn’t limiting withdrawals make more sense? And why is this the only project listed that’s joint with the St Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), and why is drawdown from Jacksonville prominently featured in slides about why this project?

[Project Location and Potential Pipeline Alignment]
Project Location and Potential Pipeline Alignment

On the SRWMD front page under CALENDAR,

Florida Forever Work Plan
The The 2016 Draft Florida Forever Work Plan Update is available for review. The District will host a Public Hearing for approval of the Plan on February 9.

On page 3 of that Update:

Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge Project

Columbia County
In September 2013, the District completed a regional study (Study) of potential regionally-beneficial aquifer recharge concepts in a cooperative effort with the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD). The Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge Project (Project) is a concept that was developed from that Study. The Project involves pumping up to a maximum daily capacity of 40 mgd from the Upper Suwannee River to District-owned land in Falling Creek Falls Park, where it will discharge to Falling Creek, eventually recharging the UFA through Falling Creek Sink (Sink). During high stages in the Upper Suwannee River, water will be diverted to an intake structure and pump station (consisting of intake screens, intake piping, and a pump station) and pumped to Falling Creek through an approximate 48-inch diameter, 11-mile pipeline. The pipeline will be constructed in existing roadway easements. Falling Creek naturally recharges the UFA via the Sink without treatment; therefore, it is anticipated that the surface water from the Upper Suwannee River will also not require treatment due to the high water quality at the intake location which is near White Springs, Florida. The preliminary design will include surface-water quality testing and analysis. Groundwater modeling analysis conducted during the Study indicated that the Project will benefit aquifer levels and spring flows in the Lower Santa Fe River. The estimated capital cost is $48,000,000.

That Update lists eight projects, including several other Aquifer Recharge Projects, but the Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge Project is by far the most expensive project, with no other rising above $4 million.

Why joint SRWMD and SJRWMD?

Why is this the only project listed in that Update that is joint with SJRWMD?

Thare are maps in some presentation slides, 150129_SRWMD-Recharge-Concepts_Jenkins.pdf, entitled “Aquifer Recharge Concepts in the SRWMD”. I don’t see any author name on them, the filename has the date 29 January 2015 encoded in it, and the name Jenkins, presumably Dale Jenkins. Maybe that’s the connection between SRWMD and SJRWMD, since Dale Jenkins used to work for SRWMD, but went to SJRWMD with former SRWMD Director Ann Shortelle, who is now Director at SJRWMD.

This slide has a map and says the plan involves 11 miles of 48-inch pipeline:

[About Falling Creek RAR: 48 pipeline]
About Falling Creek RAR: 48 pipeline

Here’s a pipeline route map, which shows it coming from various springs near White Springs and moseying over to Falling Creek State Park:

[Project Location and Potential Pipeline Alignment]
Project Location and Potential Pipeline Alignment

Maybe there’s more to why. Slide 3 says:

[Why Aquifer recharge projects?]
Why Aquifer recharge projects?

Why the Need for Aquifer Recharge
Projects in the SRWMD?

  • Restore Upper Floridan aquifer (UFA) levels
    • Protect / enhance spring flows
    • Protect / enhance river flows
    • Provide sustainable water supplies

Sustainable water supplies for whom?

Do the next three slides give a clue? The first is “Joint North FL RWSP Area and Concepts / Projects”, which shows a map of part of the two WMDs (the area covers the SRWMD only to the Withlacoochee and Suwannee). That map has three red circles, one of which appears to be over Falling Creek.

[Joint North FL RWSP]
Joint North FL RWSP

Then there’s a pair of maps, one showing Drawdown from Jacksonville and Georgia coastal cities, and the other showing Confinement, which shows a prominent dividing area in SRWMD.

[Drawdown … Confinement]
Drawdown … Confinement

And the third slide shows “… Recharge / Discharge”, where all the discharge seems to be near the Suwannee River and the Santa Fe.

[Recharge / Discharge]
Recharge / Discharge

Is this all a hint that Suwannee River discharge would be quite useful to save via recharge for shipping to Jacksonville? Call me suspicious, but remember Flint Riverkeeper has for years been fighting off a scheme for Aquifer Storage and Recovery of Flint River water near Albany for eventual shipment to Atlanta.

All along the Georgia-Florida line

This appears to be the 2013 study mentioned: Upper Floridan Aquifer Regional Recharge Concepts and Feasibility Study, by Atkins for SRWMD, September 2013. It’s a 220 pages long, but this part links Suwannee River Aquifer Recharge projects with the notorious Rodman Reservoir, the St Johns River, and the St Marys River that forms part of the Florida-Georgia border:

Executive Summary

Five surface water sources in the study area were evaluated as sources for aquifer recharge:

  • St. Marys River along the Florida-Georgia border,
  • Rodman Reservoir on the Ocklawaha River,
  • St. Johns River upstream of the confluence with the Ocklawaha River within the study area,
  • Black Creek, a tributary of the St. Johns River located in Clay County, and
  • Upper Suwannee River from the Florida-Georgia border to its confluence with the Alapaha River.

Here’s a map from page 118:

[Figure 7-3: River Reaches, Target Springs, and USGS Gages]
Figure 7-3: River Reaches, Target Springs, and USGS Gages

I guess WWALS needs to talk to some sibling waterkeepers and earthkeepers….

Strategic Plan

That same day, February 9th, (presumably at the same meeting) SRWMD will hold a Public Hearing on their Draft 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, which notes on page 2:

Natural connections to the Floridian aquifer are being restored through noteworthy projects such as Brooks Sink and the Middle Suwannee River and Springs Restoration and Aquifer Recharge project. Collectively, these projects will recharge the aquifer daily with millions of gallons of water.

And listed on page 8 is “Falling Creek Aquifer Recharge Project”.

When and where is that board meeting? According to their board minutes from 12 January 2016, item 23. “Announcements”:

Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are at District Headquarters in Live Oak, Florida

February 9, 2016
9:00 a.m. Board Meeting
District Headquarters
Lands Committee Meeting

**Board Workshops immediately follow Board Meetings unless otherwise noted.

Address: 9225 Co Rd 49, Live Oak, FL 32060.

You have to sign up to speak, according to this boilerplate after item 24. “Adjournment”:

Any member of the public, who wishes to address the Board on any agenda item, or any other topic, must sign up (including the completion of the required speaker forms) with the Executive Director or her designee before the time designated for Public Comment. During Public Comment, the Chair shall recognize those persons signed up to speak on agenda items first. To the extent time permits, the Chair shall thereafter recognize those persons signed up to speak on non-agenda items. Unless, leave is given by the Chair, (1) all speakers will be limited to three minutes per topic, (2) any identifiable group of three persons or more shall be required to choose a representative, who shall be limited to five minutes per topic. When recognized by the Chair during Public Comment, a speaker may request to be allowed to make his or her comments at the time the Board considers a particular agenda item. The Chair may grant or deny such request in the Chair’s sole discretion.

*”Lobbies” is defined as seeking to influence a district policy or procurement decision or an attempt to obtain the goodwill of a district official or employee. (112.3261(1)(b), Florida Statutes [F.S.])

*”Lobbyist” is a person who is employed and receives payment, or who contracts for economic consideration, for the purpose of lobbying, or a person who is principally employed for governmental affairs by another person or governmental entity to lobby on behalf of that other person or governmental entity. (112.3215(1)(h), F.S.)

The Board may act upon (including reconsideration) any agenda item at any time during the meeting. The agenda may be changed only for good cause as determined by the Chair and stated in the record. If, after the regular time for Public Comment, the agenda is amended to add an item for consideration, the Chair shall allow public comment on the added agenda item prior to the Board taking action thereon.

So don’t be late: get there in time to sign up to speak.


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