I attended a presentation at a local workshop with the St. Johns River Water Management District and the St. Johns Riverkeeper tonight. 

There’s a plan by several central Florida cities to withdraw up to 262 million gallons of water per day from the St. Johns River and the Oklawaha for drinking water supply.  Seems this area will exceed the capacity of the aquifer before the next 20 years–not surprising given the extreme growth rate in the area.  The Water Management District is running models, looking at data and researching the downstream effect.  According to the St. Johns River Water Management District, preliminary research indicates this withdrawal would have a minimal effect on the downstream portions of the river.

The Riverkeeper disputed this early conclusion, raising concerns about the effect on salinity in the estuary, impacts on the nitrogen and pollutant concentrations.  While the SJRWMD said no decisions have been made and any permitting will be at least two years in the future, several cities have begun engineering on the surface water treatment plants. 

Several cities in north Florida have already passed resolutions objecting to the use of the St. Johns River to provide water for excessive growth in the Orlando area.  Central Florida, on the other hand, is blasting north Florida for their lack of using reclaimed water and failure to implement strong conservation rules. 

Who’s right?  And what is real effect would occur from removing 262 million gallons a day from the St. Johns? 

These are big questions–and the problem is not just here in north-central Florida but all around the country.