State law requires the Water Management Districts to establish Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) for a designated list of springs, rivers, and lakes. The purpose of the MFLs is to provide stronger protection of water and ecological resources by establishing minimum flows and water levels that will prevent significant harm from water withdrawals while also allowing for appropriate consumptive uses.
The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) has adopted minimum flows and levels for the upper Santa Fe River (above Santa Fe Spring) and released their report titled "Technical Report for MFL Establishment for the Upper Santa Fe River" and the peer review of the document. Approximately 25% of the land area in the Upper Santa Fe River basin is located in Alachua County, with the remainder located mainly in Columbia, Union, and Bradford Counties. SRWMD completed the MFL rule making process for the Upper Santa Fe River in 2007.
SRWMD is now working on the MFLs for the lower Santa Fe River (from Santa Fe Springs downstream to its confluence with the Suwannee River), which includes the Ichetucknee River, the Santa Fe River Rise, Poe Springs, Hornsby Spring, and additional unnamed springs on the river. In September 2012, the SRWMD presented the draft technical report for establishment of MFLs for the lower Santa Fe River system and springs.
Work on MFLs for Santa Fe Lake and Lake Alto are scheduled for 2015 and 2016, respectively. The St Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) has not scheduled developing MFLs on the larger lakes in Alachua County (Newnans, Lochloosa and Orange) at this time. MFLs have been set for Lake Tuscawilla and Wauberg.