Florida Keys News
Friday, May 24, 2013
Keys water usage has little impact on 'underwater river'

A new Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) study has found that Keys residential and business water consumption has little impact on the water source -- the Biscayne Aquifer.

The report, released Wednesday to the FKAA board, researched the water levels and the salinity of that aquifer, which is near Florida City on the mainland.

Water in the Biscayne Aquifer continually "moves and flows northwest to southeast," FKAA Manager of Engineering Tom Walker said.

"There is little or no correlation noted between groundwater levels and groundwater pumpage," the report states. "Present findings of this study to the (South Florida Water Management District) to begin meaningful discussions on operations of the FKAA well field."

Walker referred to the aquifer as an "underwater river" that is continually recharged. Excess water is constantly released out to sea by the Water Management District, Walker said.

FKAA Executive Director Kirk Zuelch and Walker said they hope to use the report to lobby the district to increase or amend the Keys' water allocation.

The Keys use 16 million to 22 million gallons a day on average, according to Zuelch and Walker. In the dry season, the district limits the FKAA to 17 million gallons a day from the Biscayne Aquifer. If the Keys use more, the water must come from FKAA desalination plants.

"The Water Management District needs to be more flexible depending on rain fall and drought conditions," Walker said.

tohara@keysnews.com

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