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Water-Related News

Editorial: St Johns River Study Helpful, Leaves Questions

By Ron Littlepage, Florida Times-Union

In 2007, a runaway train was barrelling down the tracks to begin pumping as much as 262 million gallons of water a day out of the St. Johns River and its largest tributary, the Ocklawaha.

The St. Johns River Water Management District argued that stress on the Floridan aquifer from burgeoning growth, especially in Central Florida, required finding alternative water supplies to quench the thirst and water the lawns of new development.

After much argument, the district did approve a permit for Seminole County to take water from the St. Johns but also agreed to conduct a comprehensive, peer-reviewed study of the environmental effects of withdrawing water from the river.

Four years and $3.6 million later, that study is complete.

For the non-scientists and non-engineers among us, which includes me, reading the study can make your head hurt.

But it’s clear that the district’s scientists and engineers who were involved are excited about new things they learned about the river and models that were created to gauge the effect of water withdrawal.

The bottom line from the study is that withdrawing 155 million gallons of water a day from the St. Johns and 107 million gallons of water a day from the Ocklawaha would have little effect on the health of the St. Johns.