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Columbia County Observer

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Florida/North Central

In the Works for 4 yrs North Florida Has a Regional Water Supply Plan – Finally

Carlos Herd introduces the Council to the Regional Water Supply Plan.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL  – Last night at the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Carlos Herd, the Director of the Suwannee River Water Management District's (SRWMD) Water Supply Division, gave a rundown on the North Florida Regional Supply Water Plan. Four years in the making, the plan indicates that "fresh groundwater cannot meet the projected demands."

What is the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan

North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan                                       (++ enlarge)

It is the plan between the Suwannee River Water Management District and the St. Johns River Water Management District to manage the water resources in most of north Florida. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is also involved in the plan.

Carlos Herd explained, "We've done the analysis; we've done the modeling; we've done projections out 20 years on water use. It indicates that we are not going to have enough fresh groundwater to meet our needs, our projected demands in that 20 year period and meet the needs of the natural resources at the same time."

Georgia: It draws from the same aquifer

A Council member asked, "Are you going to address the water coming out of Georgia as well?"

Mr. Herd said, "At some point we are going to need to."

The Council member followed up, "That's a problem."

Mr. Herd agreed, "It is. Our analysis is showing that there are some impacts from Georgia. We need to figure out how we are going to deal with those."

Mr. Herd explained that with the Apalachicola lawsuit going on, "the District doesn't want to trip that up while they are making their final decision."

Deep Water Wells and Agriculture

Rick Davis of Madison County asked, "Will this study have any impact on the future of permitting of deep water wells for agricultural use?"

Proposed joint water caution area: Water resource caution areas are areas that have critical water supply problems or are projected to have critical water supply problems within the next 20 years. Reuse of reclaimed water from domestic wastewater treatment facilities is required within these water resource caution areas, unless such reuse is not economically, environmentally, or technically feasible.                   (++ enlarge)

Mr. Herd answered, "This report has no regulatory implications whatsoever. This is a regional water supply plan which lays out a strategy for the future so that if someone comes in and needs additional water we have a menu of projects to implement or offset those impacts to those resources."

Mr. Herd continued, "The plan doesn't require anyone to do anything unless you are a public water supply entity. [Then] it requires you to update your 10 year facilities work plan."

Council member Helen Warren of the City of Gainesville told the Council that people that grew up in North Florida are concerned about the water. She wanted to know, "Who is going to have the responsibility of regulating of landscaping irrigation systems or how many permits are issued? If there's a problem with the water, who is responsible?"

Mr. Herd explained, "The outcome of the plan is an evaluation of the resources and issues and to come with a strategy to meet the supply needs in the future. All the resource impacts are used in this analysis to see where those impacts are going to be. Any impacts to the resources are already being evaluated in our permit process. If there are impacts, they have to be mitigated."

Can North Florida's Water be Piped to South Florida?

Harvey Budd of the City of Gainesville was concerned about the consistency of permitting rules in other water management districts and was worried about South Florida taking North Florida water to quench the area's thirst because of its growing population.

Mr. Herd said, "We went through process a few years ago where permitting consistency was implemented throughout the state. We all issue permits about the same way."

Piping the water out of North Florida could be problematic. Mr. Herd explained, "If you move water from one district to another that's an inter-district transfer of water. Your governing board has to approve that. I doubt our governing board is going to approve anybody putting in a pipeline and taking our water."

An unidentified Council member asked how the plan would keep the St. Johns' Water Management District from issuing permits that impact the SRWMD.

Mr. Herd explained, "The model we are developing covers both areas. They will need to use that model in their evaluation of permits. When they do their analysis they will have to show that they are not impacting the flow in the River."

Mr. Herd concluded his presentation by announcing that the final draft of the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan will be presented to the governing boards of the Suwannee and St. Johns River Water Management Districts on January 17 in the City of Alachua City Hall. The time has not been set.


After the meeting and the mandatory Planning Council political puff photos for the members constituents, your reporter asked Mr. Herd if he had any final comments.

"We have a plan," he said.

He paused, smiled and said, "That's it – We have a plan."

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The plan and links to appendices.


Related Article:
North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan Ready for Public Comments