Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Scientists Ask Just How Much Can the St. Johns Lose; A Forum on the River Opens with Fears over Proposed Withdrawals

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Scientists Ask Just How Much Can the St. Johns Lose; A Forum on the River Opens with Fears over Proposed Withdrawals

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE PATTERSON

GAINESVILLE -- Taking too much water from the St. Johns River could fuel toxic algae blooms and suck water from underground aquifers, scientists meeting Wednesday said.

But it could be two years before those scientists will be ready to agree exactly how much withdrawal would have to happen to become a real problem.

It's the central question behind research that's still evolving while communities from Jacksonville to Central Florida feud over proposals to use the river's vast flow for lawn-watering and drinking water.

The St. Johns River Water Management District opened a two-day symposium Wednesday to talk about early findings from ongoing research and the next questions they need to answer.

"We want to ensure that this analysis is open and transparent," said Ed Lowe, the district's director of environmental science.

"I think we really need to disenthrall ourselves from any preconceived notions," Lowe said. "And if we're going to do this right, we're going to need to really, really think hard."

The water management district has considered plans to let utilities take up to 262 million gallons of water daily out of the St. Johns and the Ocklawaha River, its largest tributary. That idea has alarmed many critics and inspired a legal challenge; a hearing before an administrative law judge is scheduled next month.

One of the most active critics said public opinion pushed the district to look closer at the subject.

"Had it not been for the public, none of this would have happened," said Neil Armingeon of the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization.

"I view today with hope, tinged with cynicism," he said.

The wide range of potential impacts has been parceled out to a series of scientific committees. Their work will be reviewed in phases by scientists organized through the National Research Council. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.