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Simple steps can save water indoors
and outdoors

Taking a few simple steps inside and outside can save water and money.

Most of us turn off the water when brushing our teeth, and wait until the dishwasher is full before we run it. But there are lots of other ways to save water at home and in your business.

Finding and fixing leaks is a good place to start. A leaky toilet or faucet can waste thousands of gallons of water each month, putting a hefty dent in your wallet.

Your water fixtures may use more water than you think. Installing low-flow toilets and showerheads can dramatically reduce your indoor water consumption without reduced performance.

Outdoors, lawn and landscape irrigation accounts for more than half of all residential water use. Watering wisely outside the home saves water and promotes healthier lawns and landscapes.

Overwatering a lawn can promote weeds and insect pests, as well as weakened grass roots. Broken or misdirected sprinkler heads spray water onto sidewalks and pavement where it evaporates or trickles into storm drains.

You can save water by irrigating lawns and landscapes only when they need it, by properly maintaining your irrigation system and by landscaping with plants and grasses that require minimal water. A well-designed and properly maintained Florida landscape will stay beautiful with minimal care.

Ready to get started saving water? Explore the tips and other information in this section of our website for saving water and money inside and outside.

Florida Water StarSM is a voluntary certification program for new and existing residential and commercial developments that encourages water efficiency in household appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes.
What’s new?

The Silver/Gold residential criteria were revised in November 2010 to clarify language, increase consistency among program tiers, and to update criteria of WaterSense- and ENERGY STAR-labeled products.

In addition, points can now be awarded in the irrigation section of the points list for use of alternative water sources, including rainwater, storm water or surface water.

Also outdoors, to earn points for landscaping near a water body, a buffer must be 10 feet wide, consistent with the proposed Florida Department of Environmental Protection stormwater rule.

Indoors, points are now awarded for showers that use 2 gallons per minute or less or are WaterSense-labeled. Dishwashers must now meet the new ENERGY STAR standard of 5.8 gallons for the “normal load.” All 2011 ENERGY STAR clothes washers will earn credit.

A story of the St. Johns River
The big picture

How can one describe the St. Johns River to the uninitiated? Certainly not in broad strokes, for this 310-mile-long waterway transforms itself as it flows lazily north from Indian River County to northeast Florida and into the Atlantic Ocean.

In Indian River County, the river’s headwaters encompass vast, primordial marshes teeming with alligators, wading birds and waterfowl. In Brevard County, the marsh morphs into a navigable river, gently twisting as it crawls north. Surprises abound as the river reveals multiple personalities along the way: a tapestry of sawgrass lakes, bottle-clear spring runs and darkwater tributaries. As the river leaves Putnam County for Clay and St. Johns counties, it widens considerably, in some locations exceeding 3 miles across. After passing Mayport in Duval County, the longest river contained in the state of Florida ends its journey where it mixes with the Atlantic Ocean.
History

The St. Johns River has always played a significant role in the development of Florida. The Timucuan Indians used the river for food, water and transportation for centuries before the Europeans arrived. The French and Spanish battled for control over the waterway in the 1500s. Two centuries later, in his writings, explorer William Bartram immortalized a portion of the river as a “true garden of Eden.” Later, steamboats plied this liquid highway, ferrying tourists and goods to towns and trading posts sprouting along the shore.
Threats to the river

Today the St. Johns River remains an invaluable part of Florida. But it is not the same river it was long ago.
A limpkin forages for food.

A limpkin forages for food.

For decades, the river suffered from people’s activities, primarily stormwater runoff from metropolitan areas, treated domestic and industrial wastewater and agricultural runoff from farming areas.

Pollution in the river has, at times, triggered algal blooms and subsequent fish kills. The blooms are caused by nutrient-rich discharges. As a result, portions of the St. Johns River fail to meet state and federal water quality standards.
Fixing the problems

There is no single solution for improving the health of this celebrated and storied river. The St. Johns River Water Management District is aggressively engaged in restoration and prevention activities in several watersheds, or “basins,” along the river. The realization is this: Each basin is an interconnected part of the whole river. Improving water quality at the headwaters will ultimately impact the receiving watersheds as the river flows north.

Basin by basin, here are highlights of the billions of dollars the District and various federal, state and local partners have infused into river restoration projects and what lies ahead.
Upper St. Johns River Basin

The 2,000-square-mile basin — the St. Johns River’s headwaters — succumbed to decades of degradation as the marshes were drained to expose the rich soils to grow citrus and row crops and to raise cattle for beefsteak.
Cypress trees reach toward the sky at Blue Cypress Conservation Area in the Upper St. Johns River Basin.

Cypress trees reach toward the sky at Blue Cypress Conservation Area in the Upper St. Johns River Basin.

Since 1988, the District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have restored and enhanced more than 150,000 acres of marshes in Indian River and Brevard counties, returning the marshes to their natural, pristine condition.

Primarily a flood control project, the ancillary benefits include the restoration of fish and wildlife habitat, the creation of recreational opportunities, improved water quality and the reduction of stormwater discharges into the Indian River Lagoon by 70 percent.

Restoration projects have been completed in Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area and in Sixmile Creek, Broadmoor Marsh and Moccasin Island restoration areas.

The $200 million project calls for the District to fund all land acquisition and USACE to fund all construction. Work in the Upper St. Johns River Basin is in the final stages of completion.
Middle St. Johns River Basin

Spanning more than 1,200 square miles in east-central Florida, the Middle St. Johns River Basin encompasses a network of connecting lakes and tributaries fed by flow from the Upper St. Johns River Basin, underground springs, stormwater runoff and rainfall. The middle basin is situated within Orange, Lake, Seminole and Volusia counties — a highly urbanized area boasting more than 2 million residents — and faces ever-increasing demands on its natural resources.
Palms at Seminole Ranch in the Middle St. Johns River Basin.

Palms at Seminole Ranch in the Middle St. Johns River Basin.

The middle basin is composed of the watersheds for the Econlockhatchee River, Deep Creek, Lake Harney, Lake Jesup, Lake Monroe and the Wekiva River. Each of the watersheds is unique and has characteristics that require variable and adaptive approaches when addressing water resource issues. A Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) plan was developed for the basin to correct and prevent problems. The District is working with local governments and other stakeholders throughout the middle basin to address some problems from a regional perspective.

Accomplishments to date include the acquisition of environmentally significant land, elimination of wastewater discharges, tighter stormwater and wetland protection regulations, development of pollutant load reduction goals to identify targets to aim for in restoration efforts, erosion control in the Little Wekiva River, partnerships with local governments to retrofit problem areas for water quality and flood improvements.

Work in this project area is expected to be completed by 2025, with $33 million budgeted for restoration work and $59 million for land acquisition.
Upper Ocklawaha River Basin (including
Lake Apopka) and Orange Creek

The Upper Ocklawaha River Basin has undergone drastic declines in water quality and loss of river and marsh habitat over the last century.
A pump station at Lake Apopka Marsh Flow-Way.

A pump station at Lake Apopka Marsh Flow-Way.

Since the late 1800s, portions of the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin have been manipulated to accommodate farming and industry. The Ocklawaha River was dredged to improve riverboat navigation, and a parallel canal was dug to drain 5,800 acres of sawgrass marsh for muck farming. Similar draining occurred for farming at Emeralda Marsh on Lake Griffin. For more than 40 years, farms established on former marshes pumped water loaded with fertilizers into the lakes and rivers of the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin, including Lake Apopka. The excessive nutrients in the water caused algal blooms and fish kills. Deep organic sediments rich in nutrients accumulated on the lake bottoms as dead algae settled.

Orange Creek is another major tributary of the Ocklawaha River. As in the Upper Ocklawaha, the District has major restoration efforts under way in the 600-square-mile Orange Creek basin. The District is focusing those efforts on the three large lakes of the basin — Orange, Lochloosa and Newnans lakes.

Since the 1980s, the District has been working to restore water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin through Florida’s SWIM program. In cooperation with state and federal agencies, the District has

* Harvested more than 2.5 million pounds of phosphorus-producing gizzard shad from Lake Griffin and 15 million pounds from Lake Apopka.
* Removed 62 million pounds of suspended solids and 37,000 pounds of total phosphorus from Lake Apopka water filtered by the Marsh Flow-Way (since November 2003).
Dense forests and wetlands surround much of Lake George.

Dense forests and wetlands surround much of Lake George.
* Completed construction on several parcels that will enhance restoration of 15,000 acres of muck farms to natural marshlands.
* Developed nutrient-loading reduction goals for basin lakes.

In the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin, budget dollars total $64 million for restoration work and $166 million for land acquisition.
Lake George Basin

The Lake George Basin is a 46,000-acre watershed that includes portions of Putnam, Lake, Marion and western Volusia counties, with its most prominent feature being Lake George itself.

Lake George is unique in several ways. It is the second largest lake in Florida; the St. Johns River flows through the lake’s center from south to north; it receives water from Salt Springs in the northwest corner; there is a salt marsh located near the eastern shore, with a salty pond; and two additional spring runs (freshwater) empty into the lake.

Lake George was added to the Lower St. Johns River Basin SWIM plan in 2008. The District has begun studying algal blooms and phosphorus loadings from Lake George to the lower basin. The lake is a major contributor of nitrogen to the lower basin, and funding is being identified for projects to address water quality issues in the Lake George Basin. Key projects under way include a feasibility study to verify if projects at Lake George can reduce downstream algal production.
Lower St. Johns River Basin

Industry, farming and urban development have contributed to the decline of the health of the St. Johns River’s lower basin, which flows north from Welaka to the river’s mouth at Mayport.
Part of Bayard Conservation Area in Clay County is along the shoreline of the St. Johns River.

Part of Bayard Conservation Area in Clay County is along the shoreline of the St. Johns River.

Treated domestic and industrial wastewater, as well as sediments, pesticides and lawn fertilizers carried by storm water, have all helped feed harmful algal blooms in the river. The blooms produce toxins, deplete dissolved oxygen and endanger fish and other wildlife.

Work in the lower basin began in the 1980s with the District’s development of the basin’s SWIM plan, which focused on water quality, biological health, sediment management, toxic remediation, public education and intergovernmental coordination. The goals of the basin’s SWIM plan were furthered in the 1990s by the creation of the River Agenda, a five-year cooperative plan among several partners. The River Agenda incorporated other agency actions into the work already begun by the District, including reducing point source and stormwater pollution, reducing bacteria in tributaries, restoring degraded aquatic habitat, increasing water quality compliance and enforcement, and increasing public awareness of the river.

Studies have shown the most cost-effective solution for reducing pollutant loadings is to phase out wastewater discharges to the river. Redirecting the wastewater and recognizing reclaimed water as a commodity will improve the river’s ecological health and extend Florida’s precious water supply.

Through cooperative efforts, more than 20 reclaimed water projects are expected to begin or be completed by 2014. Once implemented, they will remove 1.6 million pounds of nitrogen per year and 10 billion gallons per year of discharge through wastewater reuse.

In 2006, the District participated in the River Accord and committed to spend up to $150 million on reuse cost-share projects over the next decade in a restoration partnership with the city of Jacksonville ($200 million), JEA ($200 million), and other local government partners and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection ($150 million). Through early May 2010, more than $53 million has been contracted by the District and more than $200 million by all partners to wastewater improvements and reclaimed water projects.

Reclaimed water
Alternative water source stretches freshwater supplies, reduces pollution

As one of the fastest growing states in the nation, Florida faces many water supply challenges. While there is no magic bullet to solving those challenges, the foundation of a sustainable water supply must be conservation, with a diversified selection of alternative sources to help stretch traditional freshwater supplies. One example is better use of reclaimed water.
A reservoir holds reclaimed water prior to it being pumped into a storage tank in Port Orange.

A reservoir holds reclaimed water prior to it being pumped into a storage tank in Port Orange.

Currently, Florida is leading the nation in the use of reclaimed water. But even as a national leader, Florida is only taking advantage of a fraction of its potential reuse opportunities.

Developing and using reclaimed water supplies for water resource benefits is a high priority within the St. Johns River Water Management District’s consumptive use permitting, regional water supply planning, and water protection and sustainability programs — and in some areas, its surface water restoration programs.

About 40 percent of the wastewater treatment flow within the District is currently reused for beneficial purposes — to replace the use of traditional freshwater supplies.

The majority of reuse occurs in the central Florida area.
Challenges

Providing high-quality drinking water to Florida’s growing population has become more challenging and costly in recent years.

At the same time, wastewater management has become increasingly difficult because of environmental concerns.

Traditionally, the majority of drinking water for the 18-county population in the District has come either from private wells or public supply utility wellfields drilled into the aquifer system. In many areas of the District, groundwater (aquifer system) cannot continue to support the demand without causing unacceptable impacts to the environment (such as the reduction of spring flows or the drying of wetlands) and the District will not allow such impacts to occur.

Meeting projected future water needs will require continued water conservation programs and innovative management strategies, such as the development of alternative water sources. Many nonpotable (nondrinking) water needs can be met by reclaimed water.
At treatment facilities, purple pipes indicate reclaimed water system plumbing.

At treatment facilities, purple pipes indicate reclaimed water system plumbing.

Although reclaimed water offers significant potential as an alternative water supply source, there is typically too much of it available during periods of high rainfall and not enough available to meet demands during low rainfall periods.

Wastewater is produced constantly throughout the year, with no dramatic seasonal highs or lows. But irrigation, which is the most common use for reclaimed water, fluctuates seasonally, with demand being higher from March to July. Thus, storage of unused reclaimed water during times of excess for use during times of peak demands is desirable. Reclaimed water reservoirs or storage tanks are necessary to provide this storage.

In addition, reclamation facilities and reuse sites are not necessarily located near one another, so reclaimed water must be transported. Transmission lines and facilities, which can be expensive to construct or disruptive, (particularly in older or built-out areas) are necessary to accomplish this.
Solutions

By using reclaimed water, communities can conserve traditional freshwater supplies and provide an environmentally responsible alternative to disposal of wastewater.

Reclaimed water can be safely used for a wide variety of purposes, including landscape irrigation for golf courses, parks, highway medians, playgrounds and residential properties. Reclaimed water also is used for agricultural irrigation; decorative ponds and fountains; groundwater recharge; industrial uses such as cooling; fire protection; and wetlands creation, restoration and enhancement.

Critical to the growth and current success of reclaimed water use is the District’s consumptive use permitting program. Permitting plays an important role in matching the area’s water sources with its water needs. The consumptive use permitting program requires water conservation and the use of reclaimed water and stormwater where feasible.
Purple pipes designate reclaimed water is being pumped through this plant in Port Orange.

Purple pipes designate reclaimed water is being pumped through this plant in Port Orange.

To address the financial impacts of implementing reclaimed water projects, cost-share funding is available through the Water Protection and Sustainability Program. Dozens of reclaimed water projects have been funded through this program.

In some areas, interest in reclaimed water has been driven by water quality concerns. In the early days of reclaimed water in Florida — the 1970s — its use was largely due to wastewater disposal issues. One example is the Indian River Lagoon, the most diverse estuary in North America, where regulations to remove wastewater and stormwater discharges led to the expansion of reuse.

Today, the District is leading efforts to reduce pollutant discharges to the St. Johns River and to expand the use of reclaimed water, particularly in the Lower St. Johns River Basin where few wastewater treatment facilities are built to provide the highest level of sewage treatment. A reuse and wastewater treatment initiative is under way, with the District committing up to $150 million over 10 years, to remove wastewater discharges and expand the use of reclaimed water.
Summary

Reclaimed water is now viewed as a commodity, as it has a demonstrated value and it meets a need in efforts to extend Florida’s limited freshwater supplies. In many areas, people eagerly await access to reclaimed water because of its lower cost. Across Florida, communities are preparing for reuse infrastructure through long-range planning, as many nonpotable (nondrinking) water needs can be met by reclaimed water.

Hydrologic and meteorologic data are used for water use planning and management, environmental protection and restoration, and flood control purposes. HDS also compiles a monthly Hydrologic Conditions Report and provides it to the District’s Governing Board each month. A summary of the major hydrologic constituents that are monitored follows.

Below are the District’s average monthly rainfall summaries:

* July 2010 — Rainfall for the month of July was 4.88 inches. The District began the second half of 2010 with near average levels, with a year-to-date (YTD) deficit of only 0.03 inches.
* August 2010 — Rainfall was 6.25 inches, with a YTD total of 34.62 inches. The YTD deficit increased to 0.76 inches.
* September 2010 — Rainfall was 3.87 inches, with a YTD total of 38.48 inches and a YTD deficit of 3.64 inches.
* October 2010 — Rainfall was 0.31 inches, with a YTD total of 38.8 inches. The YTD deficit doubled to 7.33 inches.
* November 2010 — Rainfall was 1.6 inches, with a YTD total of 40.39 inches. The YTD deficit was 7.79 inches.
* December 2010 — Rainfall was 0.81 inches, with a YTD total of 41.2 inches, and a calendar year deficit of 9.52 inches.

The development of dry La Niña conditions, which started in April, resulted in a significant rainfall deficit in many areas of the District. Rainfall amounts for 2010 were not evenly distributed across the District. Coastal areas of Nassau and Duval counties, and most of St. Johns, Flagler and Putnam counties and the District’s portion of Alachua County had deficits in excess of 10 inches for the year. Isolated portions of Volusia, Brevard and Indian River counties also carried rainfall deficits for the year of more than 10 inches.
Surface Water

Stream flow and water levels at major, long-term gauging stations and lakes began the period at or just above average levels, with the exception of the Ocklawaha River stations. The Ocklawaha River began July higher than normal for the season because of late June rains in its upper reaches.

Stream flow conditions in the upper St. Johns River basin received a small increase in flow in late July due to Tropical Storm Bonnie, and a larger increase in late September as result of the passage of the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole. However, the general trend on the St. Johns River, particularly in its middle and lower basins, was downward throughout the second half of 2010. The St. Johns River near DeLand ended the year just below the 30th percentile, but all other monitoring stations were below the 25th percentile, with several stations — including those at Christmas, near Cocoa, and above Lake Harney — below the 10th percentile. Although the Ocklawaha River and its tributaries started July near the 75th percentile and peaked again in late September, most monitoring stations in that basin also ended the year below the 30th percentile, and long-term stations at Eureka and near Conner were below the 10th percentile.

In addition to the generalized information referenced above, the District produces detailed, controlled water level information for selected areas of the Upper St. Johns River and Ocklawaha River basins. The reports are:

* Weekly Upper Ocklawaha River Basin Water Conditions Report
* Weekly Upper St. Johns River Basin Project Water Conditions Report
* Daily Upper Ocklawaha River Basin Water Control Report
* Daily Upper St. Johns River Basin Project Water Control Report

The District also produces a Keystone Heights–area hydrologic conditions report.
Groundwater

The District maintains a groundwater resource assessment program through the Division of Groundwater Programs. The resource assessment group performs detailed hydrologic investigations, designs and evaluates monitoring networks, and conducts interpretive investigations. The field services group constructs and maintains monitoring wells, oversees contractual drilling services, conducts aquifer performance tests and related hydrologic testing, and provides geophysical logging services. This program directly supports the water supply planning, the consumptive use permitting and the minimum flows and levels programs, as well as other District programs. The assessment program also provides the means to evaluate the groundwater resources, identify long–term trends, detect potential problem areas, and develop appropriate resource management strategies.

The major focus of the groundwater program is the Floridan aquifer, which is the major source of potable (drinking) water throughout the District. Groundwater levels in wells open to the Floridan aquifer began the period at the 55th percentile and steadily declined through December to below the 30th percentile as a result of the dry La Niña conditions during the late summer and autumn months.
Water Conservation

On Aug. 10, 2010, the Governing Board approved nearly $6 million in cost-share funding for reuse projects in St. Johns and Clay counties, which would represent a District investment of $59 million since 2006. The St. Johns County Utility Department (SJCUD) will construct a new, state-of-the art advanced wastewater treatment plant designed to provide 3 million gallons per day (mgd) of reclaimed water and the project would help SJCUD achieve its “zero-effluent discharge” goal from its northwest facility.

The Clay County project involves the District continuing to assist Clay County Utility Authority (CCUA) in funding construction of an interconnection of CCUA’s northern reclaimed water service area to its southern service area. The project will meet the current reclaimed water demand of 0.75 to 1 mgd and will support reclaimed water demand within CCUA’s southern service area.

On Aug. 12, 2010, the Board also approved $1.45 million in cost-share funding for water conservation projects that implement innovative water conservation initiatives. The 12 cost-share award recipients approved for funding were the cities of DeLand, Jacksonville, Fruitland Park, Groveland, Palatka, Palm Coast and Port Orange; the town of Penney Farms; Alachua, St. Johns and Volusia counties; and JEA.

The types of projects funded included:

* Reliability and performance testing of soil moisture sensors and smart irrigation controllers
* Water use data gathering, tracking and analysis to improve effectiveness in water conservation efforts
* Construction and installation of rainwater harvesting systems
* Enforcement of landscape irrigation ordinances and related education efforts

These awards mark the second round of cost-share projects funded through the District’s Water Conservation Cost-Share Program in 2010. The first round of funding was announced in April 2010 and provided $2.5 million to 13 projects. With both rounds of funding combined, the District designated up to $3.59 million to water conservation cost-share projects in 2010.

In December, the application cycle for the Water Conservation Cost-Share Program reopened. Approximately $3.8 million is available for this funding cycle, and no maximum award value has been set for individual projects.

Nov. 7, 2010, marked the change from daylight saving time to Eastern Standard Time, and District watering restrictions changed from up to two days per week of lawn watering on designated days to no more than one day per week on designated days. The restrictions specify the days for residential and nonresidential irrigation. On March 14, 2011, landscape irrigation will switch back to two days per week.

The District encourages local governments to adopt irrigation ordinances that fully implement the District’s landscape irrigation rule, and 54 of the 118 local governments within the District have enacted ordinances. A model ordinance is available to assist local governments.

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