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North Florida Aquifer Replenishment Initiative
The Initiative is a broad vision for the long-term sustainability of water resources through a cooperative effort of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) and St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), and includes active participation by water users and other stakeholders in the region. The vision of the Initiative is to protect and maintain regional aquifer levels through various recharge concepts that work in combination with existing areas of natural recharge.
ATKINS Study AreaThe Initiative is anticipated to be a key component of various minimum flows and levels prevention/recovery strategies. The general geographic area of the project includes the northeast portion of the SRWMD and the northwest portion of the SJRWMD; however, the primary area of focus is the Keystone Heights potentiometric high (including the sandhill lakes region) and the Upper Santa Fe River Basin. The figure to the right indicates the general project area.

Enhanced recharge of the aquifer would likely occur primarily through a combination of rapid infiltration basins (RIBs) and aquifer recharge wells at various locations. Potential sources of water for recharge include highly treated reclaimed water from utilities in both SRWMD and SJRWMD, and storage and capture of surface water from rivers in the region during times of high flow. Protection of aquifer water quality and appropriate treatment of water used for recharge are the primary concerns.

The Initiative would include three primary phases:
  1. Feasibility and pilot testing.
  2. Implementation of mid-term projects.
  3. Implementation of long-term regional projects.

Feasibility analysis and pilot testing will be needed first to further the Initiative. Based on the outcome of feasibility analysis and pilot testing, a series of projects may be developed using reclaimed water, stormwater, and peak surface water flows throughout the region to replenish the aquifer. Such projects would require detailed planning, design and permitting for suitable treatment, transmission, and recharge to the aquifer at various locations in the region for optimal benefit. Mid-term projects would be smaller in scope and use nearby water sources; longer-term projects would be more regional in scope with multiple sources, some of which may be a considerable distance from optimal recharge sites.

Project funding will be an important consideration. It is envisioned that funding for the mid- and long-term regional projects would come from many sources, including WMDs, the state of Florida, water utilities, and other water users.