The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) is proposing regulatory changes to the current Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP) and Consumptive Use Permitting (CUP) programs that could have significant impact on businesses in Northeast Florida.
The changes are being implemented to assist in water conservation, and due to a concern that continued development will put our area into the category as a Priority Water Resource Caution Area.
You see, our primary source of drinking water in Northeast Florida is the Floridan Aquifer. This “underground river” of water is being used at a rate greater than the natural ecosystem can replenish it, and creating unacceptable impacts.
As the availability of fresh water from the Floridan Aquifer becomes a concern, we have to look at:
- Additional water conservation measures, and
- Alternative Water Supply (AWS) sources to meet our water needs, including desalinization of ocean water, surface water body withdrawls and reuse of reclaimed water.
Both of these efforts are ongoing.
The currently proposed regulatory changes include amending the SJRWMD rules to include water conservation requirements in the ERP program and to require consolidated processing of ERP and CUP applications for specified activities. The specified activities include all ERP applications that will involve irrigation of landscape, golf courses or recreational areas. These applicants will have to develop and implement a water conservation plan to obtain a permit.