Clay County Groundwater Recharge Project Underway, a major water resource development project in North Florida is well on its way to fruition, with multiple benefits for the region’s water resources. The Black Creek Water Resource Development Project recently achieved milestones to move the project closer to its projected late 2024 completion.
This regionally beneficial water resource development project of the St. Johns River Water Management District in Clay County will recharge the Upper Floridan aquifer and also benefit water levels in lakes Brooklyn and Geneva to help support their minimum flows and levels. In 2023, the District’s Governing Board approved contracts to begin construction of the three main project components – a surface water intake and pump station, pipeline, and treatment system – with construction progressing on all components.
“Large projects with multiple construction elements are complex and take time, so it’s exciting to see the progress now that construction is well underway,” said Dale Jenkins, director of the District’s Division of Infrastructure and Land Resources. “It’s also great to attain multiple water resource benefits from one project that will add to the quality of life for North Florida residents.”
As passersby may have noticed while traveling along State Road 16, the pump station and intake structure construction is well underway (approximately 60 percent and 80 percent complete, respectively). Progress has also been made on the second element of construction with the installation of nearly two miles of high-density polyethylene pipe under two creeks along SR 21 using horizontal directional drilling technology. Additionally, more than 5,000 feet of ductile iron pipe has been installed along SR 21 using open-cut
construction. Construction on the final component — the passive water treatment system — began in October. Because the water in Black Creek contains natural tannins and lakes Brooklyn and Geneva are clear water lakes, the pumped water will be treated to remove the color as well as nutrients.
Once all three construction components are complete, up to 10 million gallons per day could be pumped to the treatment system from the South Fork of Black Creek prior to discharging to Alligator Creek and eventually Lake Brooklyn. Diversion of water from the creek will only be made when there is sufficient flow available to ensure the protection of natural resources within the riverine system (anticipated to be primarily during wet-weather flows). The treated water will replenish groundwater levels in the Upper Floridan aquifer through connections beneath lakes Brooklyn and Geneva.
The current cost estimate for the construction of the entire project is approximately $100 million. More than $43 million in project funding was provided by the Florida Legislature beginning in 2017. A partnership with North Florida utilities is contributing $19.2 million toward the project. Those utilities include Clay County Utility Authority, Gainesville Regional Utilities, St. Johns County Utilities, and JEA. The remaining balance will be provided from District funds.
To learn more about the project and follow its progress, visit the District’s website at www.sjrwmd.com/projects/#black-creek, visit the District’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/floridaswater, and follow the District on social media (@sjrwmd). ●
Beth Hickenlooper is Creative Services Manager at St. Johns River Water Management District