Study: Surface water withdrawals of St. Johns River are safe

February 16, 2012
By

The St. Johns River Water Management District announced it completed its most comprehensive and scientifically rigorous analysis studying the effects of proposed withdrawals of surface water from the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers.

The St. Johns River Water Management District announced it completed its “most comprehensive and scientifically rigorous analysis” studying the effects of proposed withdrawals of surface water from the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers.








Anjali Fluker

Senior Staff Writer – Orlando Business Journal

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The St. Johns River Water Management District 


announced it completed its “most comprehensive and scientifically rigorous analysis” studying the effects of proposed withdrawals of surface water from the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers.

The results of the four-year study, presented to the district board on Feb. 14, confirmed earlier investigations that the St. Johns River could serve as an alternative water supply without significantly damaging the environment, but the study does not authorize river water withdrawals.

Though the district currently has no new permit applications for withdrawing river water, the results of the study also helped develop data and modeling that can be applied to determine future proposed withdrawals, said Hank Largin, district spokesman.

The study came about in late 2007, when several Central Florida municipalities sought to bolster their water supplies with surface water from the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers. The district at the time had a mandate pushing municipalities to find alternatives to groundwater because supplies were thought to be dwindling.

Since then, growth has slowed and the district and local municipalities have successfully implemented water conservation efforts and use of more reclaimed water, Largin said. A previous district deadline of 2013 to finalize those alternative sources of water also is no longer in effect, he said.

“The need for alternative water sources isn’t what we thought it was going to be,” Largin told Orlando Business Journal. “But now, we have the tools with a lot of science behind it so that when and if we get these applications for water withdrawals, we can take a look at where and how much, and then analyze what kind of impacts it will have there.”

The study was conducted by more than 70 district and non-district scientists and engineers, and also involved a peer review by the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council 


, which was completed late last year.

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