Water hubs are basically cleaning stations. Really, really, big cleaning facilities that can handle thousands of acre feet of water a day. I have been working on the concept since around 2013 when I, like several others began searching for ways to deal with millions of acre feet of storm water entering into Lake Okeechobee.
The discharges from the Lake exit via the Caloosahatchee to the west and The St. Lucie via the east and they are controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS). The federally mandated discharges that have authority to ignore the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act, do so through something called the Water Transfer Rule. In 2013, 1.7 million acre feet of water was flushed through these rivers causing death and destruction of ecosystems and economies.
It became apparent the only way to stop the discharges was to sequester and redirect the storm water from Central Florida. I have been brainstorming ways to utilize existing ideas and infrastructure and water management techniques to do this. I don’t believe it is possible to hold the water in the Lakes and ecosystems of Central Florida without severely jeopardizing several species and the over all ecosystems.
On an average day, not to wet or dry, water is shunted from our rivers to the sea at about 15-20 billion gallons a day. To put this in perspective, the agricultural community for the entire state consumes about 15 billion gallons per day. The whole of population south of Lake Okeechobee consumes about 8-9 billion gallons per day. This waste of water is a result of storm water system design and also a key factor in pollution and legacy pollution. The water that runs off into our lakes and streams has all sorts of pollutants that accumulate throughout the system. Just as we recognize the need to keep this water out of Lake Okeechobee, we must realize we need to manage this water so that it stays out of all of our lakes and rivers.
This realization led me to the concept of water hubs. Large areas that could receive, clean, and then distribute water to where it needs to go in the state. For all the water we waste, we sue GA for water to irrigate our oysters in Apalachicola, the Everglades thirsts because of flow, we fight daily salt water intrusion in Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville and our Aquifer levels are depleting.
If I had a magic wand, a great example for a perfect water hub would be the Deseret Ranch property. It is about 29K acres that is situated between to conservation/wetland areas and connected to a WMA (Water Management Area). It has the added bonus of about 15 ASR’s or deep well injection sites adjacent to its southern border. We could utilize the space and existing ecology to receive storm water on the north end of the property. We could then build a flow system that could incorporate a number of technologies and natural techniques that could begin the cleaning process, the water then flows to the “facility” where natural polymers could be used to remove toxins and heavy metals. Then the water could flow to the southern wet areas, to the WMA to be “polished” or cleaned to acceptable levels. Finally since the water is cleaned it could be put back in the aquifer via the deep well injection systems.
Once a few of these were operational, you could begin to connect and network them with a series of pumps and pipes and ultimately build out to be able to transport large amounts of clean water to anywhere in the state. The state of Florida could be a global model for water management and sustainability. This is the ultimate goal of Hemp4Water.