NWFWMD Continues Data Collection Vital to Water Resource Protection

Oct. 9, 2014

The Northwest Florida Water Management District, in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Geological Survey, recently began drilling a series of new groundwater-monitoring wells, one of which is located along the Crump Road entrance to the Miccosukee Greenway. The wells will be used to collect data crucial to the development of minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for three priority waterbodies, including Wakulla Springs.

“Establishing an effective minimum flows and levels program is an important part of the district’s overall effort to ensure the long-term protection and sustainability of our area’s water resources,” said Executive Director Jon Steverson. “The district remains committed to a meaningful MFL program, based on the best science and data available.”

Florida’s water management districts are required by Florida law to set MFLs, which establish water flows, levels, and limits necessary to prevent significant harm to the water resources or ecology of an area from water withdrawals. The District is currently working on MFL development for six priority waterbodies, including St. Marks River Rise and Wakulla Springs (both first magnitude springs) and Sally Ward Spring (a second magnitude spring).

“The importance of setting and maintaining MFLs cannot be overstated,” DEP Deputy Secretary of Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett said. “The construction of these wells is imperative for monitoring water resources in northwest Florida. I applaud the district for making these necessary and unprecedented investments.”

Establishing effective MFLs requires sound science based on the best information available, including hydrologic, meteorologic and ecologic data.

The district is working to expand its monitoring network to collect additional ground and surface water data to help evaluate St. Marks River Rise, Wakulla and Sally Ward springs. This includes drilling 14 new groundwater-monitoring wells and establishing nine new surface water monitoring stations, as well as the continued evaluation and expansion of the district’s current monitoring network.

Seven of these wells are being drilled by the FGS, which will provide the district with more detailed geologic data at a reduced cost. The FGS will collect core samples at these sites, which will provide valuable geologic information to the district and help support the development of groundwater flow models.

The FGS is also able to use the geologic data collected during drilling to support its initiatives related to potentiometric surface mapping and refined hydrogeological characterization of the region.

Ultimately, the district’s well placement and data-collection efforts will provide significant support to an ambitious, yet realistic schedule for MFL completion. The district’s Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget, which began Oct. 1, includes $2.4 million for the development of MFLs.

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