Board approves MFLs to protect water resources and habitat in DeLeon Springs and Cowpen Lake

PALATKA, Fla., Dec. 13, 2016 — The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Tuesday approved moving forward with proposed rule amendments to adopt minimum flows for DeLeon Springs in Volusia County and amend minimum water levels for Lake Cowpen in Putnam County.

Establishing minimum flows and levels (MFLs) is an important goal in the district’s work of planning for adequate water supplies for today and for future generations while also protecting the district’s water resources. The district is setting MFLs for lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands and springs.

Tuesday the board authorized publishing two notices of proposed rule for DeLeon Springs and Cowpen Lake. These MFLs will go into effect Feb. 1, 2017.

DeLeon Springs is a second-magnitude spring located in DeLeon Springs State Park, north of the city of DeLand. The spring is designated by the state as both an Outstanding Florida Water and more recently as an Outstanding Florida Spring. The MFL is based on maintaining warm-water habitat for manatees and is supported by manatee experts within Florida.

The existing MFLs for Cowpen Lake were originally established in October 1998. The reevaluation included implementation of updated methods, development of a hydrologic model and analysis of additional long-term hydrologic data to ensure Cowpen Lake MFLs are based on the most up-to-date methods and criteria. These MFLs will protect wetland and aquatic habitat and other water resource values.

A public workshop was held in November to share information and gather public comment about the proposed MFLs.

As with all MFLs established by the district, the MFLs in the rule amendment will be used as a basis for imposing limitations on withdrawals of groundwater and surface water in the consumptive use permitting process and for reviewing proposed surface water management systems in the environmental resource permitting process. In addition, these MFLs will be used, along with other information and data, in the district’s water supply planning process.