ORGANIZATIONAL ONLINE SURVEY RESULTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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1 Stakeholder Advisory Committee ORGANIZATIONAL ONLINE SURVEY RESULTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AUGUST 2012 Compiled and Summarized by: Facilitating Consensus Solutions, Supporting Collaborative Action. The Florida State University Facilitation Team: Robert Jones & Jeff Blair

2 ORGANIZATIONAL ONLINE SURVEY RESULTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Stakeholder Advisory Committee This survey was conducted in July and early August with the 12 members of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee. 12 Committee Member responded representing local government, agriculture, industry/mining, public water supplier, environmental, commercial/ power generation: Gene Higginbotham; Dixie County BOCC, Mary Lou Hildreth; City of Keystone Heights, Thomas Harper; Harper Farms-Agriculture, Kerry Kates, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, David Clanton; City of Lake City Utilities, Ray Avery, Clay County Utility Authority, J. Michael O'Berry; Vulcan Materials Company, Stanley Posey; PCS Phosphate - White Springs, Patrick Welsh; Save-our-Lakes, Jacqui Sulek; Audubon Florida, James Cornett; Cornett s Spirit of the Suwannee Inc., Athena Mann; JEA The Committee members reviewed a draft survey format at its June 25, 2012 and then all members responded in July and early August 2012 to questions related to: success for the Committee; the Committee s mission statement and guiding principles; the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership components and Committee roles; Partnership key questions and key policy areas; other issues and background information needed. COMMITTEE VISION OF SUCCESS. The Committee members at their first meeting and again on the online survey described what they thought success for the Committee could look like. The following is a synthesis of their comments suggesting the following picture of success: An overall Committee work plan that integrates the initiatives required to take us from where we are today to a regional water supply plan for North Florida that is based on sound science and stakeholder collaboration and includes the: Development of one joint regional groundwater model; Establishment of one consistent process to set MFLs; and Implementation of a coordinated and consistent process to develop recovery and prevention strategies. 2

3 The resulting plan will include cost effective consensus actions that provide a path and contribute to water resource security, sustained and healthy ecosystems and future economic vitality of the entire region. COMMITTEE MISSION STATEMENT. Members completing the survey reviewed the Committee Charge and Purpose statement, and then rated a revised Mission Statement based on the June 25 comments, and offered specific refinements and changes to address minor or major reservations. The average rating was 2.6 of 4 and the ratings indicated 7 members found it acceptable and 4 members had major reservations. The Facilitators will review the comments and propose a 3 rd draft mission statement to be reviewed at the Committee s 2 nd meeting. COMMITTEE GUIDING PRINCIPLES. Members were asked to rate and comment, as needed, on the following five guiding principles. All principles received between an average acceptability rating of 3.1 and 3.8 of THE OVERALL PURPOSE OF THE NORTH FLORIDA REGIONAL WATER SUPPLY PARTNERSHIP STAKEHOLDER ADVISORY COMMITTEE (COMMITTEE) IS TO SERVE AS AN ACCESSIBLE ADVISORY BODY TO THE SUWANNEE RIVER WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT (SRWMD), ST. JOHNS RIVER WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT (SJRWMD), AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (DEP). (3.1) (9 4S/3S, 2 2S) Members suggested with the District charge statement this purpose statement may not be necessary. If it remains, suggestions included: deleting or defining accessible ; adding references to the development of a regional water supply plan and issues to be addressed, to member responsibility to represent their user group, to helping the Districts and their governing boards make well informed decisions and a commitment from the Districts to consider the Committee s advice. 2. THE COMMITTEE WILL ADHERE TO THEIR SCOPE AND CHARGE. (3.2) (9 4S/3S, 2 1S) Members suggested the Districts need to clarify for the Committee it s scope and charge as an advisory group and whether it will have a role in monitoring implementation of any recommendations. As the Committee gains knowledge and reviews science-based resources, it should have the flexibility to request that the District broaden its scope and charge if it is deemed necessary by all members. 3. THE COMMITTEE WILL STRIVE TO ACHIEVE CONSENSUS ON SUBSTANTIVE ADVISORY RECOMMENDATIONS MADE TO THE SRWMD, SJRWMD AND DEP.(3.8) (9 4S/2 3S,) Members suggested that while consensus should be the goal, it should be clearly defined and a carefully documented lack of consensus could be important information to provide to the Districts. 4. THE COMMITTEE WILL OPERATE UNDER CLEAR, CONCISE, CONSISTENT, AND FAIR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES. (3.5) (8 4S, 3 2S) 3

4 Members suggested that the procedures should be set forth for the Committee early on by the Districts as the charging agencies and that they should assist the Committee in securing information and expertise in a timely way. 5. MEMBERS WILL SERVE AS ACCESSIBLE LIAISONS BETWEEN THEIR APPOINTED STAKEHOLDER GROUPS AND THE NFRWSP STAKEHOLDER ADVISORY COMMITTEE. (3.7) (8 4s/3 3s) Members suggested clarifying to whom the members should be accessible to (e.g. to their respective stakeholder user groups, to other groups or interests, etc.) PARTNERSHIP COMPONENTS AND COMMITTEE ROLES. Members were asked to review each of the broader Partnership components and offer thoughts on what role, if any, the Committee might play. Their responses and sometimes similar and differing perspectives are summarized below. 1. DEVELOPING A SHARED TOOL TO PREDICT AND ASSESS WATER RESOURCE IMPACTS. All members agreed that a model that serves the Region will be a critical tool in assessing water resource impacts and developing consensus on a regional water supply plan and that the Committee can play a role in the development of the model. Some pointed out that the tool development should focus on eliminating differences in the measurements used by the Districts of the impact and responsibility of each user. Some pointed out that the existing modeling effort for Northeast Florida and South Georgia, which is operating with a technical committee and a steering committee that includes stakeholders, has been charged with creating the model and it could prove a useful tool in formulating the Committee s policy and resource recommendations. Other members suggested that the Committee, as a cross section of the user base in both Districts, should be a valuable source of user input into the model being developed and that some members may have experience in similar modeling efforts of even greater complexity and would able to be an excellent source of information as the Committee reviews approach(s) and progress and advises as needed. This might include review and comment on the goals and outcomes of the model (the questions that the model will answer with respect to water supply allocation, impacts and planning issues), review of the major assumptions of the model and review and advice on the schedule for model development and how it will be utilized in the development of a regional water supply plan and future permitting. 2. STUDYING THE REGIONAL GROUNDWATER DECLINE IN NORTH FLORIDA. Members agreed that this issue must be addressed by science and data that can identify the cause(s) of the decline in order to effectively focus and support prevention and recovery efforts. It was suggested that this represents only one component of an overall assessment and recommendation process that the Committee should engage in but all agreed that the Committee should be briefed on the status and progress of this study, have an opportunity to advise on action to be taken once it is completed and have access to all the science relating to hydrological decline in the region including the scope, purpose and plan for the National Academy of Science review of the published information on 4

5 this subject. Some members suggested that the Committee, representing the user base in both Districts and including hands-on experts on the user processes that control water usage and conservation, should be an excellent cross sectional test of any findings on groundwater decline as well the completeness of the studies. One member suggested the Committee does not have the capacity and should not be directing independent studies. While another member suggested a much more active Committee role in reviewing study scopes of work, model parameters, data fields, and analysis tools with full disclosure of how the data was developed, who assembled the data, and whether alternative data sources were excluded and selecting either a third party to peer review the data or consider selecting contracts for data sources. 3. CREATING CONSISTENCY AND COORDINATION IN SETTING MINIMUM FLOWS AND LEVELS. Members agreed the Committee should be briefed and provide advice and comment, as appropriate, on a range of issues as the Districts develop, revise and adopt MFLs in a consistent and coordinated manner in the Region as part of the regional water supply development plan. There was also agreement that the Committee needs to reach an understanding of how and why the MFLs are being set at the levels suggested, how the Districts have arrived at their conclusions, and whether or not the conclusions are reasonable and consistent between the WMDs. The Committee should receive information on the timeline schedule and implementation activities in evaluating and setting MFLs and recovery and prevention strategies in the two districts, including any differences in approach and on the related impacts of the setting of MFLs on water use decision-making in the two districts. Consistent with statute, MFLs should be set in the context of the assessment of sustainable yield of the available water resources while balancing the competing needs. Beyond consistency and coordination, the Committee responses suggested that setting of MFLs should be designed to drive actions that may change water use and conservation practices based on a science-based evaluation and ecological considerations such as long-term natural range of fluctuations. One member suggested that evaluating and setting MFLs with the goal of further lowering them should not be acceptable. Another pointed out that there is no minimum flow for some critical streams in the region. 4. COLLECTING AND SHARING SCIENCE-BASED DATA. There was agreement among members that all Committee recommendations should be based upon the best available scientific data and not upon conjecture or unsubstantiated facts, and the Committee could review real and perceived data gaps. The Committee should seek to understand the big picture and what issues and questions need to be addressed and answered. The Committee can serve to highlight public information to help educate and inform the general public of science-based facts. In addition, it was agreed that the Committee, and the public, should have access to all science-based data as this data will direct and validate the process model for water usage and conservation. Targeted scientific data collection projects can drive and validate the equations of the model and the data input to and output from the model. One member suggested that an overall strategy and plan should be presented to the stakeholder Committee regarding the current availability of data, the gaps, the plans to fill the gaps along with the overall plan for utilizing the data. Another member suggested that the science should be peer-reviewed by experts advising 5

6 members of the Committee in a very open process in advance of the Committee s review that can clarify whether there is agreement among the stakeholder experts and the District experts regarding that there is adequate data available to make informed decisions regarding the CUP process or of if additional data will need to be collected before making decisions. 5. DEVELOPING A REGIONAL WATER SUPPLY PLAN. Many members were in agreement that achieving this Partnership component should be the Committee s main purpose. As a committee of water users, it was suggested the Committee could work to advise on the progress, findings and conclusions, and provide valuable consensus input to the plan, test its completeness and offer leadership and support of the water users in implementing the plan. The Committee can help ensure that an overall project plan and schedule is developed that outlines and integrates the initiatives required to take us from where we are today to ultimately a water supply plan for North Florida. Several members offered that the Committee could be the driving force to maintain momentum in developing the plan, keeping the focus and ensuring the process as a whole moves forward. Another suggested if the SAC goes through all of the elements of the CUP and Water Supply process then it will be making numerous recommendations that will set the stage for the water supply plan. Another member urged that there be assurances that the SAC recommendations will be considered by the Districts throughout the process. PARTNERSHIP KEY QUESTIONS. At the first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee on June 25, 2012, staff briefed on the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership (Partnership). It was noted that the Partnership has identified the following three key questions related to diagnostic modeling. Members were asked what issues/questions should be addressed and what strategies should be considered by the Committee for each of the Partnership s key questions? 1. TO WHAT EXTENT DO GROUNDWATER WITHDRAWALS IN THE ST. JOHNS RIVER AND SUWANNEE RIVER DISTRICTS AND SOUTHEAST GEORGIA INFLUENCE EACH OTHER? ISSUES AND QUESTIONS Members identified the following issues and questions the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: general; accurate accounting for all sources and users of water; boundaries; the model development; minimum flows and levels (MFLs); safe yield; groundwater withdrawals; consumptive use permitting; and best management practices (BMPs). POSSIBLE STRATEGIES Members identified the following possible strategies related to groundwater withdrawals in the Region that the Committee should consider. They are organized in several topic areas including: model development; groundwater reduction; aquifer recharge; conservation; reservoirs; the permitting process; regional water supply plan; and changing the water ethic on conservation in the Region. 6

7 KEY INFORMATION Members noted key information related to model development, recharge and lessons learned in other regions that can assist their review of the question of the groundwater withdrawal impacts and influence within the region and development of any Committee recommendations. In terms of the model development it was suggested that the Committee needs to undertake a complete review of the modeling approach to date, available science and data and gaps, monitoring guidelines and devoted resources as well as regular updates on progress. Have the model, assumptions, inputs, model run results and conclusions been reviewed by the Districts, key stakeholders and technical experts? What are their conclusions and how should this information/analysis be utilized? Need a clear understanding of the accuracy, uncertainties and limitations of the analysis and conclusions. Finally the Committee needs to hear from the Districts on the ability of the new groundwater model to predict groundwater withdrawal impacts and influence within the Region. In terms of withdrawals and recharge, it was suggested the Committee should be briefed on how many gallons per day are being used and by whom and what is the recharge rate. How much is being pumped, how much rain is expected and how does that calculate into computations for the estimated recharge? 2. TO WHAT EXTENT DO GROUNDWATER WITHDRAWALS IN BOTH DISTRICTS AND IN GEORGIA AFFECT FLOWS AND LEVELS IN THE SUWANNEE AND SANTA FE RIVERS, AND OTHER AREA LAKES AND SPRINGS? ISSUES AND QUESTIONS Members identified the following issues and questions related to groundwater withdrawals and flows and levels in the Region s rivers, lakes and springs that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: general information; model and tools to answer question; comprehensive review of withdrawals in the region; direct impacts and cumulative effects; impacts on slope and hydration; relation to TMDLs; monitoring wells; and groundwater recycling and recovery. POSSIBLE STRATEGIES Members identified the following possible strategies related to groundwater withdrawals in the Region that the Committee should consider. They are organized in several topic areas including: model and tool development; groundwater withdrawals; and aquifer replenishment and reuse. KEY INFORMATION Members noted the need for key information related to model development and its ability to answer the questions. There was a request for regional technical staff briefings on any data gaps that make modeling difficult to support decisions and how they are being addressed as well as the identification of where there is adequate and inadequate information to support decisions. This information should highlight what are the uncertainties and limitations of the model in answering the questions. 7

8 3. HOW DO WE DISTINGUISH THE IMPACTS FROM DROUGHT VERSUS THOSE FROM GROUNDWATER WITHDRAWALS? ISSUES AND QUESTIONS Members identified the following issues and questions related to distinguishing drought and groundwater withdrawal impacts that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: general questions and comments; water budget data; modeling impacts and the cause and effect of drought and groundwater withdrawals; review of drought related impacts; aquifer levels, recharge and modeling; groundwater withdrawals and decline; ecosystem response to drought; cumulative and secondary impacts; resetting minimum flows and levels in a drought; and consumptive use permits and drought. POSSIBLE STRATEGIES Members identified the following strategies related to distinguishing drought and groundwater withdrawal impacts that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: review historic aquifer and surface water levels and rainfall; base recommendations on data and science; climate vs. pumpage impacts; reuse and recharge permit conditions. KEY INFORMATION Members noted the need for key information related to model development and its ability to answer the questions. There was a request for information on: daily water use in the region; the rainfall modeling to provide predictive rainfall for water resource planning that has been done by Tampa Bay Water; on the Districts progress in recovery actions and water body response to those actions. 4. LIST BELOW ANY ADDITIONAL KEY QUESTIONS THAT YOU BELIEVE THE COMMITTEE AND PARTNERSHIP SHOULD ADDRESS RELATED TO DIAGNOSTIC GROUNDWATER MODELING Members identified the following additional key questions related to diagnostic groundwater modeling that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: aquifer and ecosystem capacity; addressing impacts with diagnostic ground model; sustainable yield; and recharge and reuse. One member included the questions for modeling that were developed by stakeholders, DEP and the Districts from the Partnership Charter (Appendix A) for the Committee s information and consideration. PARTNERSHIP KEY POLICY AREAS. The North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership identified the three key policy areas which Committee members reviewed and noted issues and questions they thought the Committee should consider in each of these areas. Water Conservation. Members identified the following additional key questions related to water conservation that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: conservation program information; sustainable yield and conservation; 8

9 precipitation forecast and conservation; allow local selection of conservation measures; user involvement; BMPs and conservation; incentives; water resource caution areas and conservation; coordination of conservation strategies in the region; and CUPs and conservation. Alternative Water Supplies. Members identified the following additional key questions related to alternative water supplies that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: alternative water supply information; local choices on alternative water supply options and projects; alternative sources; alternative water supplies and aquifer replenishment; reclaimed water; surface water and groundwater usage; mixing water types; drought and alternative water supplies; conservation as an alternative water supply; and reservoirs. Aquifer Replenishment. Members identified the following key questions related to aquifer replenishment and recharge that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: information on recharge; testing aquifer replenishment on a small scale before major investments; recharge and aquifer levels; restore natural recharge areas; recharge and water quality; leakage and recharge; rate of recharge needed; and environmental and permitting issues and recharge. Additional Key Policy Issues. Members identified the following additional key policy issues that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: the Committee s process to develop a regional water supply plan; user groups meeting the challenge; sustainable yield; minimum flows and levels for important water bodies in the region; and consumptive use permits and a balanced water budget. OTHER ISSUES. Members identified the following additional key issues that the Committee should address. They are organized in several topic areas including: committee field trips; industry practices; user process documentation; eutrophication and recharge; conservation incentives and methods; large CUPs; pricing ground water resource use; and MFL Prevention and Recovery Strategies and the Regional Water Supply Plan. BACKGROUND INFORMATION. Members identified the following background documents, reports and other information that the Committee should review or be briefed on. They are organized in several topic areas including: clear translation of technical studies and level of peer review and confidence in the results for Committee s use; historical reports on rainfall and groundwater levels; summary of types of wells and depth of withdrawals; summary of BMPs for agriculture; environmental impact study of St. Johns River; economic impact study of groundwater overuse; staff analysis of permits and CUP guidelines; and other related reports as needed. 9

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