Update 2023-03-28: Videos: Upper and Middle Suwannee River MFL Peer Review Meeting 2023-03-15.
Thanks to WWALS Board member Dennis Price, P.G. of Hamilton County, Florida, for spotting this meeting about minimum flows and levels on the Suwannee River, including underground water down to the Floridan Aquifer.
Please come to the meeting at SRWMD HQ in Live Oak at 9AM Wednesday, March 15, 2023.
Or send comment to MFL@srwmd.org by April 30, 2023.
SRWMD, Alerts & Notices, February 22, 2023 9:00 AM Upper and Middle Suwannee River MFL Peer Review Meeting
A public meeting to start the peer review process for the Upper and Middle Suwannee River Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) has been scheduled. An overview of these proposed MFLs will be presented by the District to the peer reviewers and the public. These MFLs are specifically for the Upper and Middle Suwannee River segments. The District will continue to work on the MFLs for priority springs along the river based on the District’s MFL priority list schedule.
The draft Upper and Middle Suwannee River MFL technical documents are posted to the District’s website for review. See the links and provided information below.
Public comment is being accepted on MFL methods and analyses presented in the technical documents until April 30, 2023. Please email all comments to MFL@srwmd.org.
The public meeting is being held on March 15 at 10am at the District’s headquarters in Live Oak, FL.
The only springs mentioned by name in the two MFLs web pages are Suwannee Springs and White Sulfur Spring, both in the Upper Suwannee River.
But the draft report for the USR names more priority springs: Blue Sink near White Springs, HAM1023971, Blue Spring at Boys Ranch, Holton Creek Rise, Alapaha River Rise, Seven Sisters Spring, and Stevenson Spring.
The Upper Suwannee River extends from the Okefenokee Swamp to the Withlacoochee River Confluence at Ellavile. Florida’s Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) is mostly concerned with the 79 Florida river miles of that, for example not including the Okefenokee Swamp, except insofar as conditions upstream affect Florida.
And conditions well beyond the Okefenokee Swamp do affect Florida, as can be seen in this map, which only goes to 1980.
This is why SRWMD and the St Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) are cooperating with Georgia’s Suwannee-Satilla Regional Water Planning Council (SSRWPC) in the North Florida Southeast Georgia (NFSEG) model.
Figure 27. Area map showing the North Florida Southeast Georgia (NFSEG) model domain, the Suwannee Satilla Planning Region, and the North Florida Regional Water Supply planning area boundary. [Adapted from Figure 4-92 of the North Florida Southeast Georgia Groundwater Model (NFSEG v1.1), (2019)
The Middle Suwannee River runs “92 river miles from Ellaville to Wilcox (Fanning Springs).”
The Lower Suwannee River runs from Wilcox to the Gulf of Mexico, and is not a subject of this meeting.
SRWMD also does MFLs for the Santa Fe River Basin, but that is not a subject of this meeting, nor are the Alapaha, Withlacoochee, or Little River Basins.
Each of the above MFLs web pages has a draft report for peer review linked to it. There are also copies as of today on the WWALS website.
The USR draft report contains this overly complicated diagram featuring “Alternative Flow Regime”.
It doesn’t mention limiting water withdrawals.
We know who is withdrawing the water, and how much.
Agriculture is the biggest user, except for Public Supply, which presumably means primarily Jacksonville.
Notice Mining lumped into a composite category. In Hamilton County, the Nutrien phosphate mine withdraws the most water, which could explain why White Sulfur Spring doesn’t flow much anymore.
We don’t want to risk a strip mine for titanium dioxide for white paint near the Okefenokee Swamp affecting the water levels of the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River, or the springs.
You can help stop that mine:
The last figure in USR draft report is about “Flow available for withdrawal”. But what should be done if that flow has already been exceeded? Or to stop it being exceeded?
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®