Live Oak —
The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) Governing Board on Feb. 11 approved several agreements totaling approximately $765,000 to implement cooperative springs protection and restoration projects in key locations throughout the District. These agreements are putting state appropriations for springs protection and restoration to work.
“Many of these projects will take place in strategic locations to support the recovery of groundwater levels within the Lower Santa Fe River Basin, while assisting with the implementation of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Basin Management Action Plan to improve water quality within the Santa Fe River Basin,” said District Executive Director Ann Shortelle. “These projects are only made possible by state appropriations to the District and by cooperative funding through our project partners.”
“Today’s Board action will advance projects to reduce nutrient loadings and restore flows necessary to revitalize the Santa Fe Basin,” said Tom Frick, Director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. "The projects are critical to achieving the nutrient reduction targets the DEP set in 2012, and are an integral part of the overall restoration plan for the Santa Fe River and its many springs.”
The following projects were approved:
Aquifer Recharge and Groundwater Withdrawal Reduction
The District is partnering with an aquaculture operation in Alachua County to implement a water reuse project. The project will offset about 900,000 gallons of groundwater weekly – or 47 million gallons annually – within the Ginnie and Gilchrist Blue springsheds in the Lower Santa Fe River Basin.
The District is also partnering with Gainesville Regional Utilities to construct a recharge wetland in Alachua County. The first phase of the project will provide between roughly 500,000 and 1 million gallons per day in recharge to the aquifer to support spring flows in the Poe Springs Watershed and benefit water supplies within the Lower Santa Fe River Basin.
Water Quality Improvement
The District is partnering with an agraculture producer in Gilchrist County, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and DEP to reduce nitrate in groundwater within the Ginnie and Gilchrist Blue springsheds of the Lower Santa Fe River Basin. The project involves implementing new technologies that have been shown to remove more than 95 percent of nitrate, with an estimated annual nitrate removal of 7,500 pounds – or four pickup truck loads.
The District is also partnering with a plant nursery in Alachua County to expand a current denitrification system to reduce nitrate loading within the Upper Santa Fe River Basin and to contribute to improved water quality within the springs of the Lower Santa Fe River Basin. The first phase of the project reduced nitrogen loading by 64 percent annually or 6,105 pounds, which is nearly three and one-half pickup truck loads.
The District will partner with Jefferson County, Suwannee County, and Gilchrist County to conduct restoration activities at Wacissa Springs, Charles Springs, Hart Springs and Otter Springs. The projects will improve water quality by removing sediment within the springs and stabilizing the springs banks to control further erosion.