Workers began restoring the water levels of Mallory Swamp in Lafayette County Wednesday.
The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), Department of Environmental Protection and officials in Dixie County introduced the $2 million project.
Artificial draining and drought brought down the swamp’s water levels over the years, and residents are concerned about their water supply.
“As a farmer, being able to water a crop when I need to water it determines where (or whether) I make a living or not,” said Rod Land, a local farmer.
Starting this week, geologists set up wells to help manipulate water levels in the swamp and aquifer.
“We’re trying to rehydrate it first,” said Tom Greenhalgh, a geologist from Florida Geological Survey. “Then, the water that comes out of it will go into the aquifer on the edges of the swamp.”
The project will expand both residential and agricultural water supplies in Lafayette and Dixie counties, according to a SRWMD press release.
Geologists are also digging up limestone and taking samples back to the lab to better understand the aquifer system. The samples are used to determine permeability, giving geologists an idea of where to place each well.
The second plan of action will be to close ditches that have caused water to flow outside the swamp’s usual boundary.
“It’s important for us to have a sustainable means of rehydrating … so that we have sustainable agriculture and sustainable natural resources,” said Ann Shortelle, SRWMD spokesperson.
Although Land believes it’s a step in the right direction, he said he doesn’t believe sustainability will last if water continues to be drained from the swamp.
“These God-created areas, such as what is now Mallory Swamp, (were) put here for a reason,” Land said. “My belief is that they (were) put here for recharge in drought times.”