At the end of April, the Sierra Club, through its Florida Chapter, filed an emergency petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeking designation of the Floridan Aquifer as a Sole Source Aquifer (SSA) under the EPA’s Sole Source Aquifer Protection Program.
Water is Florida’s most abundant and important natural resource. Underlying the entire state of Florida is the Floridan Aquifer System (FAS), one of the most economically significant, extensive, deepest and most productive artesian aquifer systems in the world. The FAS underlies all of Florida, southern Georgia, southern South Carolina, far-southern Alabama and far-southern Mississippi.
“The Floridan Aquifer is threatened by over-allocation, over-pumping, pollution and waste,” said Tom Larson, Sierra Club Florida chapter conservation chair.
Following EPA's technical review of a SSA petition, the Agency summarizes the information in a technical support document that is made available for public review. Then, interested people may provide written comments to EPA or participate in an EPA-sponsored public hearing before a designation decision is made.
SSA designation will provide limited federal protection for the Floridan Aquifer System, increase public awareness of its vulnerability and is a critical first step towards creating new management plans by federal, state and local officials.
Twenty million Floridians depend on safe, pure water from the Floridan aquifer. Agriculture and industry require clean, abundant water. Florida’s waters attract and sustain 100 million visitors to our state each year. Yet, we continue to deplete, pollute and waste our water as if it is an inexhaustible and indestructible resource. It is neither inexhaustible nor indestructible.
“Protection of Florida’s vital water resources is one of the highest priorities of Sierra Club Florida. We are pledged to protect critical recharge areas from development, curtail nutrient pollution, encourage conservation and hold accountable those who abuse this most essential of all public properties. The newest threat to our water supply is ‘fracking’, which we will continue to oppose vigorously,” said Larson.He added, “The Sierra Club is confident that the Floridan Aquifer System qualifies both quantitatively and qualitatively for greater protection and will soon be granted Sole Source Aquifer status. And we look forward to building on this new protection with better water management policies, including an end to polluting ‘enhanced oil/gas recovery techniques’ (which include acidizing and fracking) and waste disposal and aquifer storage & recharge injection wells that threaten the delicate Floridan karst geology and our water supply.”