The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) governing board moved forward with a water use monitoring rule for its largest users and to assist agricultural water users with the required monitoring.
The program will monitor 75 percent of the total water allocated in the District.
"The District needs actual water use data to accurately forecast sustainable, future water supply needs and to develop water supply plans," said Jon Dinges, District director of water supply and resource management.
The water use monitoring requirements have been developed with statewide consumptive use permitting consistency (CUPcon) in mind. CUPcon is a statewide effort led by the Department of Environmental Protection to improve consistency in water use permitting to ensure less confusion for the applicant; treat applicants equally; protect the environment; streamline the process; and incentivize behavior that protects the environment.
In the District, agricultural producers hold the greatest number of water use permits. The District has collaborated with the agricultural community to provide incentives that should entice farmers to put in place a monitoring system before regulatory requirements kick in.
The new rule will require automated monitoring and reporting of withdrawals on a daily basis as a condition for new, renewed, and modified water use permits. The rule will apply to all groundwater wells with an inside diameter 8 inches or greater and to surfacewater withdrawals that have an outside diameter 6 inches or greater.
The Governing Board took the extra step that provides agricultural users a voluntary, convenient, no-cost method of measuring water use by calculating electric consumption. In cooperation with their electric utilities, producers would authorize the sharing of their power use data with the District. If electrical consumption data is not available, other run time monitoring methods may be used.
All stakeholders will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule at a public workshop at District headquarters in Live Oak on October 11 at 5:30 p.m.