Two-month pilot project is a key step toward the full-scale Black Creek Water Resource Development Project
PALATKA Fla., March 26, 2021 — The St. Johns River Water Management District today officially launched a two-month pilot project to test an innovative treatment process to remove natural tannins and nutrients from Black Creek water. The pilot test is an important step toward a full-scale project to help meet future water supply demands in north Florida while also protecting water resources.
“The Black Creek Water Resource Development (WRD) Project will replenish the aquifer, protect the environment and support water supply demands,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “This pilot project is critical to the full-scale project because it addresses both nutrients and the difference in color between our dark-water Black Creek and our clear Keystone lakes.”
During the initial work to pursue a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for this project, the District investigated alternative treatments to remove the color of natural tannins from Black Creek’s water prior to distribution to the Keystone Heights region. The Black Creek WRD Project will result in increased recharge to the Upper Floridan aquifer in northeast Florida in the Keystone Heights region and Lower Santa Fe basin using excess flow from Black Creek.
More than 30 treatment alternatives were considered, and the District’s team selected a proprietary biological and passive treatment technology provided by the Sustainable Water Investment Group (SWIG).
The Governing Board in January approved $1.2 million in funding for the water quality treatment pilot test and treatment system design for the full-scale Black Creek project.
In the pilot test, water from Black Creek is pumped and filtered through the SWIG-designed media at intervals to remove color and low levels of nutrients that are natural to Black Creek. The pilot project simulates full-scale operation, including water quality analysis after treatment.
“Today is a great example of partners working together to get the science right and move a vital project forward,” said Gen. Douglas Burnett, chairman of the District’s Governing Board, who recognized area stakeholders including Camp Blanding, the Save Our Lakes Organization (SOLO) and Clay County.
“This project will get us another step closer to the construction of the full-scale Black Creek WRD Project,” said Board Vice Chairman Rob Bradley. “Replenishing the Upper Floridan aquifer helps all of us in north Florida.”
Funding for the full-scale project was provided in the St. Johns River and Keystone Heights Lake Region Projects legislative appropriations over three years beginning in 2017. The appropriation was championed by then-Sen. Rob Bradley of Fleming Island (who currently serves as the District’s Governing Board vice chairman), Rep. Bobby Payne of Palatka, and former Rep. Travis Cummings from Orange Park. The District is also contributing $5 million toward the project.