Update 2022-11-16: Videos: North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan meeting @ SRWMD 2022-11-15.
This rather thorough model of the Floridan Aquifer and its relatives is meant to be support planning, but does not actually do that planning. Planning is the topic of the meeting this afternoon about the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan (NFRWSP).
Collage, Figures and Tables from NORTH FLORIDA SOUTHEAST GEORGIA GROUNDWATER MODEL (NFSEG V1.1)
That’s also why we need Right to Clean Water in Florida.
The sentence I’ve bolded below from the Executive Summary is the most important thing about the North Florida-Southeast Georgia (NFSEG) regional groundwater flow model.
The Northeast Florida-Southeast Georgia (NFSEG) model was developed through a collaborative effort among a technical team of experts from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), and stakeholders from water utilities, private industry, governmental organizations, and environmental groups. The model was designed to be a tool that can be used to evaluate inter-district and interstate groundwater pumping effects, as well as effects within an individual district. A primary function of the model is to simulate the regional effects of pumping on groundwater levels, stream baseflows, and spring flows. Intended applications of the model include evaluations of proposed consumptive use permits, support of analyses of minimum flows and levels, and water supply planning.
Back in 2016, SRWMD and SJRWMD rejected requests for a water budget to limit consumptive use permits. The term budget is used in NFSEG, but in a different sense, about evapotranspiration and other uses vs. aquifer recharge, not limitation of human uses. This time, SRWMD and SJRWMD need to implement a water budget.
Here I’ve extracted all the figures and tables, so they’ll be handy for later use. Those 382 images are on the WWALS website.
This one, for example, shows four different types of groundwater withdrawals, as of 2009.
Suwannee County leads in agricultural withdrawals, with Hamilton, Madison, and Levy Counties close behind. And all that irrigation washes fertilizer nitrates through the soil into rivers and springs, causing algae blooms, crowing out native vegetation, etc.
In this detail map, you can see the pattern extends across the Suwannee River into Lafayette and Dixie Counties. In Georgia, Brooks, Lowndes, and Echols Counties along the GA-FL line, then Colquitt, Cook, Berrien, Lanier, Atkinson, and Clinch, continuing north with Worth, Tift, Turner, Irwin, Ben Hill, Wilcox, Crisp, and Dooly Counties. Basically every Georgia Suwannee River Basin county except Charlton, and those parts of Echols, Clinch, and Ware that are too swampy.
In the Suwannee Basin, Hamilton County leads in PSCII, which is Public Supply/Commercial/industrial/institutional, where one of those slashed terms includes mining, as in the Nutrien phosphate mine. Along with Alachua County, because of Gainesville, and presumably because of the Chemours titanium mines.
This is yet another reason a titanium mind next to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia would be a bad idea, and you can help stop that.
Lowndes County is first in Georgia, because of the industry around Valdosta. Outside the Basin, the leaders are Jacksonville-Duval County, and Wayne and Chatham Counties, Georgia. Chatham is obviously because of Savannah metro, but Wayne?
Ah, this more detailed map makes it obvious, by the red blob on the Altamaha River: the Rayonier paper mill and the Plant Hatch nuclear power plant are both in Wayne County.
In Lowndes County, you can see PCA near the GA-FL line, among others. In Hamilton County, the Nutrien phosphate mine is the two big red blobs near White Springs. Gainesville sucks up a lot of water, but not much compared to Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Savannah.
DSS is Domestic Self Supply, as in private water wells, which show an interesting north-south pattern through Colquitt, Brooks, and Lowndes Counties Georgia, then Madison, Suwannee, Columbia, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, and of course Alachua Counties.
In this detail map, that pattern is even more obvious. As is the Okefenokee Swamp and the swampy areas to its west and south, as well as the similar areas southwest of the Suwannnee River.
Those areas closely match this other map of where nobody lives in the Suwannee River Basin.
In LRA, which is Landscape/Recreational/Aesthetic, there’s no Georgia data, so it’s hard to read, but most Suwannee River Basin counties are in the lowest tier. Not that many yards and golf courses, I guess.
What does this all add up to?
Gainesville, Savannah, and Valdosta metros suck up a lot of water, along with the Nutrien phosphate mine and other users.
No wonder spring levels keep going down.
NFSEG does not include second-magnitude Arnold and McIntyre Springs on the Withlacoochee River just north of the GA-FL line, nor first-magnitude Radium Spring in Albany, GA.
It is a Florida-based model for a Florida plan, so that’s not surprising.
The main point, I suppose, is still that the Floridan Aquifer and its various relatives extend throughout north Florida, south Georgia, and into South Carolina, and what affects one part of it affects all.
So come to the meeting this afternoon at 2PM, or zoom in, or send written comments.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®