Monday, May 16, 2011

JEA receives permit to draw more from Florida aquifer

A state water agency approved a 20-year permit Tuesday for JEA to gradually increase the amount of water it takes from Florida's aquifer by more than a third.

The Jacksonville-owned utility could be allowed to use up to 163 million gallons of groundwater daily by 2031, up from the 118 million gallons daily it pumped last year.

JEA already had a patchwork of permits to take 155 million gallons a day, and water managers argued the new deal makes JEA live within reasonable limits.

"We proposed an allocation for the next 20 years that, in total, is really no more than ... they already have," said Catherine Walker, director of water use regulation at the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Critics said Northeast Florida water use was hurting aquifer levels and contributing to falling springs and lakes in places far outside JEA's service area.

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