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I just returned from Gainesville, Florida after spending two days at the St. Johns River Water Management District’s technical symposium on water withdrawals from the St. Johns River.

The issue revolves around the impact on the river if central Florida utilities withdraw up to 262 million gallons per day from the St. Johns and Oklawaha Rivers. To determine the effects, over 60 scientists are collaborating in a 2-year study. Comprised of hydrologic and hydrodynamic modeling, and in-depth study of how water withdrawal will affect wetlands, salinity, soils, submerged aquatic vegetation, algae, crustaceans, fish – basically every conceivable aspect of the river ecology – the study is unprecedented in scope.

The National Research Council is peer reviewing the study. The NRC has already provided comments on Phase I of the project and the scientist are addressing those comments.

Phase II of the project should be completed by Summer 2010 and I’ll be updating the blog. Right now, there are no conclusions. But the brain trust is certainly impressive. This study should be able to serve as a model for similar projects in the future.

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