Six Reasons this Reservoir is Not a Good Water Supply Source


The Rodman/Kirkpatrick Pool near Palatka, Florida has been considered as an alternative water supply (AWS). Several older studies and plans evaluated the pool as a source. More recent studies have refuted the benefits of using the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Reservoir as a source of water supply because:

  1. There are 150 million gallons a day of  additional water available from a free-flowing river. The water resource value of a free-flowing Ocklawaha River is much greater. Breaching the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam would “increase downstream flows in the Lower Ocklawaha River by 156 to 276 million gallons per day by reducing lake surface evapotranspiration and by uncovering more than 20 springs flooded by the Rodman Pool.” (Wycoff, SJ2010-SP10, Hendrickson et al. 2011). This range may have declined some due to increased groundwater withdrawals.
  2. It has little water storage. The value of a surface water reservoir is the availability of freshwater in storage when other sources are constrained by short-term variations in supply. The he Rodman/Kirkpatrick Reservoir is broad and shallow and provides little water storage.
  3. Treatment is more expensive. Treatment of surface water is two to four times more expensive than groundwater from the Floridan Aquifer.  Herbicides are used extensively to control aquatic vegetation in the Rodman impoundment and the river upstream of the dam. Additional and more expensive pretreatment processes would likely be needed prior to disinfection (J. Gross, 2019).
  4. Impacts to Florida’s fisheries. Managing the pool as a water supply reservoir would draw pool levels down to extremely low levels, adversely impacting fish and aquatic species. Breaching the dam and allowing natural water flow from the Ocklawaha River and 20 drowned springs will help sustain important Ocklawaha, St. Johns River and Atlantic sports fishing and commercial shellfish businesses. Scientists predict the free-flowing river will bring back species critical regionally and to the southeastern US such as the striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, American eel, and American Shad. The restored river, 20 uncovered springs and Silver Springs will provide essential habitat for hundreds of Florida manatees (Bloomberg, April 2, 2020).
  5. Higher transportation costs. Water pumping, piping and transport would be too costly.
  6. Reduced benefits to the Blue Economy. In addition to supporting Florida’s fisheries, a free-flowing Ocklawaha River would support more diverse tourism and vibrant river communities, both upstream and downstream. Rivers provide ecosystem services such as long-term water quality improvements, thermal cooling, carbon sequestration, estuarine protection, and sustained biodiversity.

Tibbals, C. H., 1990, Hydrology of the Floridan Aquifer System in East-Central Florida; U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1403-E; United States Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.

Wycoff, R. L., 2010, Lower Ocklawaha River Basin Hydrologic Data Review and Discharge Analysis; St. Johns River Water Management District, Special Publication SJ2010-SP10, 76 p.

Hendrickson, J., 2016, Effects on Lower St. Johns River Nutrient Supply and TMDL Target Compliance from the Restoration of a Free-Flowing Ocklawaha River; St. Johns River Water Management District, Palatka, Florida, 91 p.