Update 2023-04-26: Upper and Middle Suwannee River MFL webinar and followon WebBoard meetings 2023-05-02.
SRWMD considered everything from water levels needed for paddling and other boating, to fish passage depths, to Gulf Sturgeon spawning depth. The sturgeon won, with the least allowable flow reduction at the median. This was for all of the reference gauges for both stretches of the river. Which means Gulf Sturgeon determine the minimum flow levels and depths for both the Upper and Middle Suwannee River. The draft MFLs are already in the report.
Reviewers, MFL, Public Comment 2022-03-15
As one of the three speakers in the Public Comment agenda item, I got surprising agreement on two points. I said that while limiting water withdrawals might not be within the scope of this process, nonetheless the sensitivity map for the Suwannee River at Ellaville indicated that this process could study what would happen with various potential water withdrawals in various locations. And this process could study the effects of different aquifer replenishment methods.
Replenishment methods such as SRWMD’s two proposed pipelines from the Suwannee River at White Springs and Branford to Falling Creek to replenish Ichetucknee Springs, and the much simpler solution proposed by Dennis J. Price, P.G., of drilling wells at the bottom of planted pine plantation ditches.
Movie: Water withdrawals and aquifer recharge should be modeled –Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman (357M)
Much to my surprise, Chair Dr. Gregg Jones wanted to discuss these points. He remarked that in SWFWMD they had determined it was too late to turn back the clock to fix the Peace River, because there would be too much economic effect. I pointed out that the Suwannnee River Basin fortunately was not in nearly so bad shape, to which he agreed. And that while this process could not make such economic decisions on limiting water withdrawals, it could do modeling to supply a basis on which the policymakers could make such decisions. He nodded. I said it seems we are in agreement. He said yes.
Movie: This process can model withdrawals and recharge to inform decision makers –Chair Dr. Gregg Jones and SuwRK (703M)
Even more surprising, the speaker before me popped back up again: Rob Dennis, a consultant for the North Florida Utility Coordinating Group. He said that his recommendation of better Reference Timeframes (RTF) for the river gauges would help show impacts.
Movie: A better documented timeframe will help show impacts –Rob Dennis (115M)
I would think the point of the first Public Comment speaker, from Florida Farm Bureau, that sustainability is essential, would also be relevant to the need for modeling.
Movie: Sustainability is critical –Florida Farm Bureau Federation (254M)
The three peer reviewers had some questions about process and content. They are: Dr. Gregg Jones, Chair, former SWFWMD (sitting in the center), Dr. Adam Munson, former SWFWMD (right), and Dr. Mark Hamel, University of Georgia, ecology, esp. fishes and hydrology (left).
Dr. Jones wanted to know why not include whether MFLs are being met? It did not seem to me that SRWMD had an answer for that.
Dr. Jones noted that the Northwest and St. Johns River Water Management Districts paid no attention to peer review: why is SRWMD so different? The answer appeared to be that SRWMD considers peer review to be required by law.
The Peer Chair also wanted to know how they reviewers were supposed to hold useful discussions in the upcoming online meetings when they were not to get each others’ comments until the meeting. There did not seem to be an answer to that.
They got a straightforward answer to one question. George T. Reeves, SRWMD Legal Counsel, was very clear that the peer reviewers were not required to respond to any contact from the public, and SRWMD staff didn’t want the peer reviewers to spend valuable consultant time on that.
Below are links to each WWALS video of each agenda item. Or most of them: I got there a little late. There are also some small gaps here and there as I was wrestling with cameras. See also the agenda and the technical documents.
Introduce peer reviewers
Dr. Adam Munson, former SWFWMD
Dr. Mark Hamel, UGA, ecology, esp. fishes and hydrology
Dr. Gregg Jones, Chair, former SWFWMD
8. -12 week process
Why not include whether MFLs are being met? –Dr. Gregg Jones, Chair
Sunshine law –George T. Reeves, SRWMD Legal Counsel
NW and SJRWMD no attention to peer review: why so different? –Dr. Gregg Jones
Public contact? –Chair; Not required to answer and costs money –SRWMD Counsel
River gauges results and MFLs
In and out of scope: comparisons to other WMDs?
Reviewer discussion meetings without seeing others materials first?
Sustainability is critical –Florida Farm Bureau Federation
Reference timeframe important –Rob Dennis, consultant, NFL Utility Coord. Group
Model water withdrawal & aquifer recharge –Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman
Can model withdrawals and recharge to inform decision makers — Jones and SuwRK
A better documented timeframe will help show impacts –Rob Dennis
No comments from online
Here’s a WWALS video playlist:
Videos: Upper and Middle Suwannee River MFL Peer Review Meeting 2023-03-15
Videos by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS).
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!