Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Coming to an Aquifer Near You

On August 12th, the Governing Board of the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) will vote on a permit application from California-based Niagara Bottling to withdraw 484,000 gallons of groundwater a day from the aquifer. Recently, the SJRWMD staff recommended that the permit be approved, and the Governing Board rarely goes against staff recommendations.

However, the Governing Board may not have a chance to vote if Lake County, Groveland, and Clermont follow through and file for an adminstrative hearing to challenge the permit application, as they have indicated that they might do.

Orange County Commissioner Teresa Jacobs sent a memo to Mayor Rich Crotty asking about the possibility of providing support to Lake County. Jacobs said, "Can anyone expect citizens across Central Florida to take water conservation seriously if the SJRWMD approves a permit for a private company to pull millions of gallons of water from the aquifer to bottle and sell throughout the country?"

Here is the contact information for the SJRWMD Governing Board members, so that you can let them know what you think about the permit.

David G. Graham, Chairman dgraham@sjrwmd.com
Susan N. Hughes, Vice Chairman shughes@sjrwmd.com
Ann T. Moore, Secretary amoore@sjrwmd.com
W. Leonard Wood, Treasurer lwood@sjrwmd.com
Douglas C. Bournique dbournique@sjrwmd.com
Michael Ertel mertel@sjrwmd.com
Hersey “Herky” Huffman hhuffman@sjrwmd.com
Arlen N. Jumper ajumper@sjrwmd.com
Hans G. Tanzler III htanzler@sjrwmd.com

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Less is Best

This past week, the Jacksonville City Council passed both an irrigation ordinance and a fertilizer ordinance. The new irrigation legislation will limit watering of lawns and shrubs to twice a week and designate assigned days of the week for households and businesses. The fertilizer ordinance will limit the amount of fertilizer that can be applied on an annual basis and will require buffers along waterways where fertilizer can't be applied.

Although these ordinances are certainly not perfect and will definitely not solve all of our water use and fertilizer runoff issues, they are a good start. Hopefully, they will serve as tool to educate homeowners and businesses about the importance of conserving water and how to responsibly apply fertilizers to our lawns. Let's face it; we use an excessive amount of water (over 50% of our water is used for irrigation) and many people frequently apply far more fertilizer than is necessary. We have to start taking significant measures to curb our excesses and live more sustainably. Our river is sick, and we are reaching the limits of our aquifer, the source of over 90% of the drinking water in this state. This unfortunate situation will only get worse if we don't do something now to address the causes of these problems. These ordinances represent a first step in that direction for Jacksonville.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Muddy Waters

These photos were taken yesterday by Christopher Ball, a St. Johns Riverkeeper Board member. Neil Armingeon, the Riverkeeper, responded, trying to locate the source of the sediment. Unfortunately, it was difficult to pinpoint the culprits with absolute certainty. However, there is some reason to believe that it may have come from a Department of Transportation road project. The City of Jacksonville is still investigating the incident. We'll keep you posted about what we find out about this unfortunate situation.