Easement approval keeps Black Creek Water Resource Development Project on track, allows for future recreational access

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PALATKA, Fla., Dec. 1, 2017 ― An easement on three acres of county-owned property on Black Creek was approved Tuesday night by the Clay County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to implement the Black Creek Water Resource Development Project (WRD), a key component to meeting northeast Florida’s water supply needs. The easement also allows for the construction of a kayak/canoe launch and connected parking for future public access to Black Creek.

“Many thanks to the Clay County BOCC for unanimously recognizing the regional importance of this project to replenish the Floridan aquifer in northeast Florida,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “The commissioners’ approval is a major step toward acquiring the land rights for construction of the transmission system. We appreciate their support, and we are excited to partner with them to provide future recreational access to Black Creek.”

“This project will help with flooding and recharging the aquifer so future generations will have clean drinking water,” said Clay County BOCC Chairman Gavin Rollins. “It will also be a kayak launch for residents of the Middleburg area to enjoy the beauty of Black Creek.”

The BOCC unanimously approved granting a perpetual easement to the district over the county’s property near the intersection of state roads 16 and 21, encompassing a portion of Black Creek. The purpose of the easement is to allow the district to implement the project and to construct the kayak/canoe launch and parking area.

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. The plan was approved in January 2016 after three years of collaborative development in a public process.

This project, which will be built over four years 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 will capture up to 10 million gallons per day (mgd) of flow from the Black Creek South Fork when water levels allow. The water will then be pumped through a transmission system toward Camp Blanding in the Keystone Heights area and discharged to an Upper Floridan aquifer recharge system adjacent to Alligator Creek.

Key points to know about the project:

  • Currently, the project is in design and engineering phase.
  • Preliminary analysis indicates there will be no measurable change in the creek’s salinity from the project.
  • The maximum pumping of 10 mgd will have little to no environmental impact.
  • The average flow of Black Creek is 155 mgd. During Hurricane Irma, the flow exceeded 6,700 mgd.
  • At low flows, there will be no water diversion from Black Creek.
  • The project is expected to contribute to minimum flows and levels recovery in the region.
  • The project may help improve water levels in lakes in the Alligator Creek system, including drought-stressed lakes Brooklyn and Geneva, but its purpose is to replenish the aquifer system.

Funding for the estimated $41 million project includes $5 million a year from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, funded through Amendment One, the Florida Land and Conservation Initiative. The funds are part of a 2017 legislative appropriation championed by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, and Rep. Travis Cummings, R-Orange Park, and administered by the district.

For information and ongoing updates about the project, visit the district’s website at www.sjrwmd.com/facts/black-creek.