Board authorizes work to begin on Black Creek water recharge project in north Florida

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PALATKA, Fla., July 11, 2017 — A project to provide recharge to the Floridan aquifer using excess water from flood-prone Black Creek received a nod from the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Tuesday, which directed its executive director to negotiate with the top-ranked design/engineering firm to get the project off the ground. Funding for the project comes from a 2017 legislative appropriation championed by Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Bobby Payne and will be administered by the district.

“The board’s action today is the district’s first major step in the biggest water resource development project ever in northeast Florida,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “The Black Creek Water Resource Development (WRD) Project has far-reaching benefits and is truly an all-around win for the region. We thank Sen. Bradley and Rep. Payne for their vision to protect the environment and commitment to enhance the quality of life for residents and businesses in northeast Florida.”

“Amendment One created a revenue stream that will allow water resource protection projects of this magnitude to move forward, and I applaud my colleagues in the Florida Senate for supporting our funding request,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island. “I am very excited about the benefits of this project to meet the future water supply needs of northeast Florida and to replenish the lakes in Keystone Heights.”

“This project is important to help meet the water supply needs of northeast Florida residents and businesses for years to come by recharging the groundwater supply,” said Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka. “This project also will support economic growth in Keystone Heights and surrounding communities.”

The Black Creek WRD Project is one of several projects identified in the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan (NFRWSP) to help meet future water supply demands while protecting natural resources. This project, which will be built in southwest Clay County between Penney Farms and Camp Blanding, focuses on providing recharge to the Upper Floridan aquifer in the Keystone Heights region and Lower Santa Fe basin.

The project is expected to contribute to minimum flows and levels recovery in the Lower Santa Fe Basin and may help improve water levels in lakes in the Alligator Creek system, including lakes Brooklyn and Geneva.

The project will capture flow in the Black Creek South Fork during high water periods and flood events. The water will then be pumped through a transmission system toward the Keystone Heights area and discharged to an Upper Floridan aquifer recharge area.

Approved by the St. Johns River and Suwannee River water management districts’ governing boards in January 2017, the NFRWSP determined that fresh groundwater alone cannot supply the projected increase in demand of 117 million gallons per day (mgd) for the region through 2035. The NFRWSP identified potential water resource and water supply development projects to meet the 2035 demands while protecting the natural resources of the north Florida region.