Message from Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle

Consumptive use permitting program enhances District’s work to protect water supply

Jan. 14, 2021

A water supply facility in St. Johns County.

A water supply plant in St. Johns County.

The work of the St. Johns River Water Management District toward its core mission of water supply is multifaceted. Today, I’d like to share successes in the area of consumptive use permitting and highlight the key role our regulatory staff play in managing and protecting water supplies before a permit is issued, during the permitting process and afterward.

In 2020, the District issued 304 consumptive use permits (CUPs) throughout our 18-county region, most of them renewals and modifications in addition to a small number of new permits. CUPs typically allow water to be withdrawn from ground­water or surface water for reasonable-beneficial uses in a manner that does not inter­fere with other existing legal water uses and protects water resources from harm. Water conservation achieved through CUPs can result in measurable water savings benefiting our Outstanding Florida Springs and other protected water bodies.

Water conservation plans are required in all consumptive use permits, and our staff encourage permittees to improve efficiencies that further reduce their need for water, including offering cost-share opportunities in which the District partners with large permittees on technologies and strategies to increase water savings.

Reductions in authorized water use often occur during the permit renewal or the permit modification process. Last year, our process helped reduce the permitted groundwater allocation from the Upper Floridan aquifer (our primary and very finite source of potable water) by approximately 4.97 million gallons per day (mgd). Through additional measures such as permit rescissions and file closures on projects that no longer use water or meet permitting thresholds, the overall permitted reduction comes to 7.92 mgd from the Upper Floridan aquifer. That’s enough water to fill 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools each and every day!

We applaud those permit holders throughout the District who have joined us in implementing water conservation and alternative water supply technologies to reduce withdrawals from the aquifer and surface water bodies, and we thank our Regulatory staff for their diligence in ensuring that water is being used in the most efficient ways possible. All of us at the District appreciate the efforts of businesses, local governments, agricultural entities and individuals conscientiously practicing water conservation each day. It is true that every drop counts.

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