Water & Air scientists and engineers evaluated the feasibility of obtaining a required Water Use Permit to operate a proposed sturgeon aquaculture farm in North Central Florida. A variety of technical information was gathered and evaluated to help determine environmental concerns associated with the location, construction, and operation of the facility.
- Compared proposed groundwater withdrawal volumes to determine if these were consistent with other sturgeon farm water use in the state.
- Evaluated types of material used as part of the plant process, and what chemicals of concern would be treated by the proposed particulate and bio-filtration systems.
- Determined sizing and permitting of the proposed effluent discharge system, (septic and/or wastewater retention ponds) to handle emergency flushing and storm events.
- Reviewed available model results to determine if they adequately addressed the area’s unique hydrostratigraph and the possibility of direct connection between surface water, upper aquifers, and the Floridan aquifer.
- Determined whether the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for aquaculture certification can adequately address potential risk to human health and the biota near Little Big Sturgeon (LBS).
- Summarized what monitoring practices will be used by LBS to protect public and private well water quality.
- Analyzed affects on operation of the sturgeon pond (water quality in nearby lakes, from shallow aquifers, and the Floridan Aquifer).
- Provided expert opinions.
- Participated in public meetings and coordinated with District personnel.
Our evaluation showed serious water quantity and water quality concerns that had the potential to negatively impact nearby surface and groundwater resources. These issues were recognized by the St. Johns River Water Management District, which resulted in the project being postponed until the permittee could provide additional information and assurances that showed the proposed farm would not adversely impact the areas water resources.