Here’s what we’re doing in Alachua County

Greenery around Alachau sink
Alachua Sink at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is among water resources in Alachua County.

The work of the St. Johns River Water Management District is all about water. Our staff work each day on your behalf to protect water. This work is focused on four core missions: water supply, water quality, flood protection and natural systems enhancement and protection.

Alachua County is just one of the 18 counties where we do our work. Following is an overview of some of the ways that your tax dollars benefit not only the residents and visitors to the county, but also its natural and water resources.

Have you seen construction projects in your community or wonder where your water comes from? Chances are, the District issued a permit through its regulatory programs. The Consumptive Use Permitting Program reviews requests for water use and determines the amount of water available to be withdrawn from groundwater or surface water for uses such as public supply utilities, agricultural operations, commercial uses and power generation. Environmental Resource Permits authorize new construction in a way to prevent harm to water resources (such as causing adverse flooding), manage surface water and protect water quality, wetlands and other surface waters.

Water supply planning and our regulatory and water conservation programs are examples of how we apply our water supply core mission each day.

House with solar panels on the roof
This Florida Water Star home in Hawthorne includes water efficiency inside and out.

Strategies to protect and restore water quality include a commitment to comprehensive monitoring to guide impairment determinations, manage restoration projects and evaluate effectiveness.

Flood protection comes in many forms, such as water storage in natural wetlands and your neighborhood stormwater pond or flood control structures built in strategic locations.

Natural systems benefit from lands the District has purchased for conservation and restoration. These lands are open for free for your enjoyment. On lands not owned by the District, natural systems benefit from effective permitting, water quality improvement projects, minimum flows and levels and cost-share projects.

The District owns or manages the following public lands in your county:

Prescribed fire helps maintain fire-dependent public lands.

Public lands help protect Florida’s endangered plants and animals.

Minimum flows and levels balance people’s and nature’s needs. MFLs in your county are:

  • Lochloosa Lake
  • Lake Wauberg
  • Lake Tuscawilla

See the MFLs priority systems map.

Learn more about MFLs.

View of Newnans Lake from the shore
Newnans Lake Conservation Area overlooks Newnans Lake in Alachua County.

The District constructs large, regional projects that often benefit multiple counties and benefit more than one of the District’s core missions. Some of the projects in your county include:

  • Paynes Prairie Diversion Project — This project replaced and updated an existing, potentially failing structure in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. The structure allows approximately half of the water from Prairie Creek to follow its historic route into Paynes Prairie to enhance the ecological health of the prairie and to provide additional recharge water to Alachua Sink which feeds nearby springs. Remaining Prairie Creek flows continue through Camps Canal to Orange Lake. Under typical conditions the structure is open, but it can be closed when water levels on the prairie become high enough to potentially effect U.S. Highway 441.
  • Collaborative Research Initiative on Sustainability and Protection of Springs (CRISPS) —The District and the University of Florida completed a three-year investigation into the health of springs to develop an enhanced scientific foundation that will help identify the most effective restoration and protection actions. The $3 million project is an important component of the District’s springs protection work.

The District’s cost-share programs help local governments, agricultural entities, disadvantaged communities, and other non-governmental organizations undertake projects to benefit one or more of the District’s core missions and benefit your community. Such projects include upgrades to water treatment facilities, expansion of reclaimed water lines, creating stormwater treatment ponds and parks, etc. Here are examples of this work in your county.

  • Hawthorne Downtown Water Main Replacement — The project included the replacement of approximately 4,800 linear feet of existing old cast iron water mains with new water mains and replacement of the service lines to each customer’s structure. The estimated water conservation benefit is 0.013 million gallons per day (mgd). Project Status: Complete.
  • Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) Groundwater Recharge Wetland — The project includes construction of a modified dry stormwater retention basin to accept reclaimed water continuously to support emergent marsh wetland vegetation and to reduce nitrate concentration of water seeping into the groundwater. The estimated alternative water supply benefit is 0.4 mgd. Project Status: Complete.
  • Read about our cost-share program.
  • See other projects

The District collects a wealth of data that is used to make science-based decisions in all our work. This includes data on how much rain your county has received, the water levels in area lakes and rivers, the amount of nutrients in natural waterways, planning to address future water supply needs and much more.

The Blue School Grant Program provides funding to teachers within the District in support of their efforts to engage students in understanding and appreciating Florida’s freshwater and estuarine systems.

Blue School Grant Program winners from Alachua County.

  • Resilience Charter School, Inc.
  • Gainesville High School
  • P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

Encourage your child’s teacher to apply for a grant.

Contact us about a speaker for your group. We’d love the opportunity to speak with you about our work. Speaker’s bureau.

Free materials you can read or download at home or school.

Staff in our Governmental Affairs Program provide water resource information, assistance and support to federal, state and local elected officials and their staffs, and collaborate on water resource issues, programs and projects. One of the ways you may have met team members is during the annual Water Conservation Month observance when your local governments approved proclamations recognizing the observance.