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North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan

St. Johns River in Clay County

North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan

The North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan (NFRWSP) is the first-ever regional water supply plan for 14 north Florida counties and was developed through a highly collaborative process among the Suwannee River and St. Johns River water management districts and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), local governments, public supply utilities, environmental advocates and other stakeholders. Over the past four years, the water supply planning process included 36 Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) meetings, more than 50 other stakeholder meetings and two public workshops to engage stakeholders to understand their individual perspectives as related to water resource issues in north Florida. This plan is a direct result of the collaboration between these groups who each share the common goals of preserving and extending our future water supply.

This water supply plan covers a 20-year planning period and is based on the best data and research available. A key component of the plan is the North Florida-Southeast Georgia groundwater flow model (NFSEG), developed by the two districts in collaboration with the Southwest Florida Water Management District in a separate open-public process with stakeholder input. This groundwater flow model is the largest in the state and incorporates all elements of the water budget including: recharge, evapotranspiration, surface water flows, groundwater levels and water use. The development of the model utilized a state-of-the-art calibration process to incorporate the most current data and provides the best available approximation of all components of the water budget within the planning area and the model domain. This model provides the most technologically sophisticated picture of groundwater withdrawals on water resources in north Florida.

As a result of the collaborative process, the districts determined fresh groundwater alone cannot supply the projected 117 million gallons per day (mgd) increase in water demand during the 20-year planning horizon without causing unacceptable impacts to water resources. The NFRWSP identifies solutions to meet the current and future water use needs of the region while ensuring the natural resources of the area are protected.

One of the major highlights of this plan is its focus on conservation. In fact, the NFRWSP is the most comprehensive water conservation plan in the region. The plan illustrates water conservation efforts which could potentially reduce the projected 2035 water demand by as much 54 mgd. This represents 46 percent of the projected 117 mgd increase in demand over the 20-year planning horizon and demonstrates the districts’ commitment to water conservation.

In addition to water conservation, the plan identifies an additional 160 mgd of potential project options to guide water users and suppliers in their efforts to meet the projected demand while protecting our natural resources. Project options range from aquifer recharge, rehydration of wetlands and potable reuse, to alternative water supply sources like reclaimed and stormwater. Both districts are committed to working with local governments to share costs to help get these beneficial projects implemented.

Water supply planning is an ongoing process, with enhanced scientific methodologies and new data acquired all the time. District staff are already working on the science and data collection for the plan’s five-year update. Through this process, the districts have been able to create a roadmap that offers options to achieve sustainable water use through the planning horizon.