The Amy H Remley Foundation  

November 4, 2007

Comments on Withlacoochee Water Woes.

by Norman Hopkins, as printed in the Citrus County Chronicle on Sunday, November 4, 2007.

I applaud and support Pricilla Watkins for speaking out in the CC Chronicle Commentary Sunday, October 21st, 2007. I attended those meetings of the WRWSA board and was appalled at the discussions there.

Considering minimum flows and levels (MFLs). The spin of the title sounds fine. It seems as if MFLs protect too much water being taken from our water resources. However, at the meeting of September 19th, 2007, Pete Hubbell, once of SWFWMD, now a consultant to WRWSA, proclaimed that MFLs would allow water to be taken from watershed and springshed areas in times of surplus, meaning when MFL levels are naturally exceeded by heavier rains in season, to be pumped into a couple of off - line reservoirs to be used as supply in times of drought. Furthermore, as MFLs for Citrus County are not yet set, his consultancy would set "proxy" levels so that planning could proceed (gaining false traction).

What was not said was, that once residing in any man made reservoir, that water would not be protected by the Local Sources First doctrine but be available to anyone (eg SJRWMD) as an alternative water source (AWS) for them . Moreover, the reservoir water would be exposed to evaporation back into the atmosphere, instead of being part underground, to join the seventy percent of rainfall which already regularly returns to the atmosphere by evaporation and plant transpiration. The off take would also reduced the aquifer head to reduce the sovereignty spring outflows to the detriment of our coastal rivers which contribute millions of dollars to the County's economy. River water quality would degrade with increased algae bloom and increased salt water intrusion.

Furthermore, a setting of a MFL does not take account of future development already sanctioned at the time the MFL is set. According to the WRWSA legal advisor, fifty thousand homes are already platted in Citrus County and not yet built. The major retail and housing developments contemplated in Citrus County will act as magnets to attract sales of those platted sites as well as those featured in the development proposals. Growth of fifty thousand homes in The Villages within the SJRWMD is calling for seven million gallons per day from AWS by 2025, the similar amount required for Citrus County growth does not show in the calculations, to say nothing of the three million gallons of fresh water per day reportedly required to scrub pollution from the existing Crystal River power plant emissions.

Significant costs of building reservoirs, and for that matter any desalination plant co-located with the power plant, will thus be used to finance the population expansions taking place in other water management districts (eg SJRWMD). Note also, that any surplus gallonage of any desal plant built in Citrus County will also not be protected under the Local Sources First doctrine but be available as AWS to anyone. Remember the new nuclear power plants earmarked for Levy County?

When Jack Sullivan, Executive Director of WRWSA, drew attention to the need for co-operation between water management districts at the boundary, meaning the Withlacoochee River and Lake Rousseau being eyed for 33.1 million gallons per day of AWS, and later called this a necessary and rational regional basis, it became really scary. As Priscilla mentioned, what makes that scary is that this would only require agreement between the two water management district Governing Boards involved (of similar composition and interests), and already the districts effectively tax the citizens by the mileage rates they apply without any effective citizen say so, nor oversight. Local government need not feature in such a decision.

We have been given heads up by Priscilla. We must pay attention and speak up too.

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