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Environ Manage. 2008 Dec;42(6):1101-14. doi: 10.1007/s00267-008-9199-y. Epub 2008 Sep 19.

Minimum flows and levels method of the St. Johns River Water Management District, Florida, USA.

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St. Johns River Water Management District, P.O. Box 1429, Palatka, FL 32178-1429, USA.


The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) has developed a minimum flows and levels (MFLs) method that has been applied to rivers, lakes, wetlands, and springs. The method is primarily focused on ecological protection to ensure systems meet or exceed minimum eco-hydrologic requirements. MFLs are not calculated from past hydrology. Information from elevation transects is typically used to determine MFLs. Multiple MFLs define a minimum hydrologic regime to ensure that high, intermediate, and low hydrologic conditions are protected. MFLs are often expressed as statistics of long-term hydrology incorporating magnitude (flow and/or level), duration (days), and return interval (years). Timing and rates of change, the two other critical hydrologic components, should be sufficiently natural. The method is an event-based, non-equilibrium approach. The method is used in a regulatory water management framework to ensure that surface and groundwater withdrawals do not cause significant harm to the water resources and ecology of the above referenced system types. MFLs are implemented with hydrologic water budget models that simulate long-term system hydrology. The method enables a priori hydrologic assessments that include the cumulative effects of water withdrawals. Additionally, the method can be used to evaluate management options for systems that may be over-allocated or for eco-hydrologic restoration projects. The method can be used outside of the SJRWMD. However, the goals, criteria, and indicators of protection used to establish MFLs are system-dependent. Development of regionally important criteria and indicators of protection may be required prior to use elsewhere.

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