The Black Creek Project will provide little benefits to the Keystone Lakes and will waste over $42 million of state resources that could be used to provide real benefits to the areas’ water resources. The problem with the Black Creek Project is that for large parts of the year there will not be water that can be pumped from Black Creek at Penney Farms without causing significant harm to Black Creek. Before spending almost $2 million this year on planning a pipeline that will have no water in it for parts of the year the St. Johns River Water Management District should look at its calculations again.
Any attempt to pump water from Black Creek when it is below its average flow of about 130 cubic feet per second would likely harm the ecology of the South Prong of Black Creek immediately above and below the point where the water is withdrawn. The impacts of withdrawals below the 130 cfs on the endangered Black Creek Crayfish should be a real concern. Recreational use of the South Prong of Black Creek will likely be impacted by withdrawals when flows are below 130 cfs.
Over the past 24 months, the flow at Penney Farms was below 130 cfs 77 percent of the time. Over the last 24 months only 1,680 million gallons of water could have been pumped for Black Creek if one considers flows over the average flow to be high flows. The SJRWMD indicates water will be withdrawn at high flows.
There is a less costly method of getting water to the Keystone Lakes that could start immediately. Over the last 24 months, Chemours has discharged much more than 1,680 million gallons of water into the Alligator Creek that flows through Starke. Those discharges added to the flooding that Irma caused in Starke and around Lakes Sampson and Crosby. Placing a 10 millions of gallons per day pump at the Chemours discharge point and pumping the water into the Old Dupont Mine Site would allow more water to flow to the Keystone Lakes than the proposed Black Creek Project.
The Chemours option could start now with existing Chemours pumps. The cost to add the 10 mgd pump and the needed pipe might even be less than the $2 million in this year’s budget for just 60 percent of the cost of the Black Creek Project design. The big bonus for us Bradford County residents is the Chemours option would reduce flooding during future rain events like Irma.