Suwannee Democrat


February 12, 2014

Middle Suwannee River and Springs Restoration and Aquifer Recharge project advances

Live Oak —

The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) is undertaking hydrologic restoration activities in Lafayette and Dixie counties that will have regional benefits to spring flows and groundwater supplies.

The District is in the data collection and evaluation phase of the project. To date, the District has constructed 16 test wells to assess geologic and hydrogeologic conditions of the area. Site reconnaissance has been completed to determine where flows need to be reestablished along the dredged canals. Also, three surface water gages have been installed to estimate the volume and timing of water available for recharging the aquifer.

Presently, the District is conducting surveys along the canals, hydrologic features, test wells and surface water gages. These surveying efforts will aid in the assessment of aquifer-level data, and to collect elevation data for existing hydrologic structures and surface water gages.

Early estimates indicate that under normal rainfall conditions, 10 million gallons per day (mgd) may be available for recharge. Referred to as the Middle Suwannee River and Springs Restoration and Aquifer Recharge project, the project will rehydrate ponds and wetlands within the vicinity of Mallory Swamp. It also will enhance surface water storage and recharge the aquifer to benefit spring flows along the Middle Suwannee River region including Troy, July, Little River, and Pot Hole springs. Additionally, these efforts will augment domestic and agricultural groundwater supplies in Lafayette and Dixie counties.

The next phase of the project will be permitting and design. Construction of the project is scheduled for later this year and will begin with the restoration of surface water flows to natural systems, primarily in Dixie County.

The Middle Suwannee River and Springs Restoration and Aquifer Recharge project is a cooperative partnership between the District, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Dixie County. So far, DEP has provided $1.5 million toward the $1.9 million project and the District has committed $277,000 toward the project.

“This project will rehydrate natural systems, recharge the aquifer, and provide far reaching benefits to our springs and groundwater supplies,” said District Executive Director Ann Shortelle. “This project serves as a key example of the District’s focus on springs protection and restoration, and it is only possible because of landmark funding provided by the governor and Legislature to DEP and the District for protecting and restoring springs in Florida.”

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