District Board adopts new minimum levels for lakes Brooklyn and Geneva

Aerial view of Lake Brooklyn

Lakes Brooklyn (pictured) and Geneva have experienced significant declines in water levels since the 1960s from a combination of long-term rainfall deficits and impacts from regional groundwater pumping.

PALATKA, Fla., May 11, 2021 — The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board today voted to adopt revised minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for lakes Brooklyn and Geneva, in Keystone Heights, to ensure the lakes are protected from significant harm due to groundwater pumping.

Among the most-studied lakes within the District, lakes Brooklyn and Geneva are sandhill lakes within the upper Etonia Creek chain of lakes. Minimum levels for both systems were originally adopted in January 1996 based upon the best available information at the time.

The District completed re-evaluation of these MFLs in 2020 using state-of-the-art evaluation technologies, such as regional and local-scale groundwater models and tools to analyze the effects of groundwater pumping. This re-evaluation by the District included a rigorous review of potential metrics, along with additional data collection and analyses, that has resulted in the most appropriate recommended minimum levels for lakes Brooklyn and Geneva.

MFLs represent the limit at which further withdrawals would be significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of an area.

The reevaluated minimum levels will be used as a basis for imposing limitations on groundwater and surface water withdrawals in the District’s consumptive use permitting process and for reviewing proposed surface water management systems in the environmental resource permitting process.

Many factors are studied and tailored for each unique water body when determining MFLs. Environmental values may include the habitat needed for native plant and animal species, as well as the many human uses of water such as navigation, recreation and aesthetics.

The reevaluation for lakes Brooklyn and Geneva indicated these levels are not currently being met in either lake, thus the Board approved a recovery strategy in April 2021. The recovery strategy identifies a suite of project options, including the Black Creek Water Resource Development Project, and measures to develop additional water supplies and other actions to achieve timely recovery to the revised MFLs.

MFLs are one tool used for setting limits on groundwater and surface water withdrawals. Establishing MFLs is an important component of the District’s work of planning for adequate water supplies for today and for future generations while also protecting water resources within the District.

Visit www.sjrwmd.com/minimumflowsandlevels/brooklyn-geneva for details about MFLs for lakes Brooklyn and Geneva. To learn more about MFLs, visit the District’s StreamLines blog at www.sjrwmd.com/streamlines/finding-a-balance-in-floridas-waters.