Our river is under siege.
Seven Springs Water company, a local business which pumps water for Nestlé whose wells are within a few hundred feet of Ginnie Springs, has applied to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) requesting a permit to withdraw water in the following amounts:
daily average mgd (million gallons per day) withdrawal is 1.152; the peak per month is 1.728; the yearly million gallons per year is 420.480, or four hundred twenty million, four hundred eighty thousand gallons.
The current permit expired in June, and the District responded to the new application with a Request for Additional Information (RAI) on April 2, 2019. Seven Springs Water turned in a revised application on July 12, 2019, with the major difference being they requested a five-year permit instead of 20. Their answer to the RAI regarding impacts to wetlands and flows and levels was that it is not required for a five-year permit. Perhaps this was the reason they changed from 20 years to five years. The District sent another RAI (July 12) still requesting answers from the first RAI, which are as listed below in the Sun article.
The hardest issue to justify regarding the permit is: since the Santa Fe River is designated impaired by the DEP, how can you issue a permit of 1.152 million gallons of water per day to be withdrawn? It is designated impaired because the flow is reduced by over-pumping. How can pumping more be justified? Is it “reasonable and beneficial”? How can it be justified when none of the other bottlers that were at this plant ever extracted the entire allocation; during the last four years only under 300,000 gpd were ever removed for bottling purposes. Especially when the reason is for a corporation to make money. Restoring, not reducing the flow of the river is in the public interest, as we see by so many people using the springs.
Nestlé is gearing up for bulk transfer too, in which the water completely leaves the water basin. When farmers irrigate crops, the food may absorb some of the water, and that irrigated land is at least absorbing the water and the atmosphere may uptake some of the extraction. Bottling water is a threat to our public water supply. It makes the consumer reliant on buying expensive water instead of buying it from our local sources like municipalities.
Why is the applicant reluctant to provide science regarding harm to wetlands, spring flow, and endangered species? Logic tells us that pumping out 400,480,000 gallons of water from a spring will have an impact, and it will not help restore the river.
Seven Springs Water has until October to re-apply for the permit. If they miss the deadline, they may request an extension.
If you are not happy that this private for-profit business wants to withdraw more water from our public river and springs for the fee of $115, let our water management people know. In a post to follow, we will explain how to make your comments to the those who can withhold this permit.
Continue reading the rest of the article at this link here in the Gainesville Sun.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Nestlé wants to pump millions of gallons from Ginnie Springs
By Cindy Swirko
A request by the Nestlé food company for a new permit to withdraw water from Ginnie Springs in Gilchrist County has led to a raft of questions from the Suwannee River Water Management District and opposition from environmentalists.
Nestlé Waters North America has requested a permit allowing it to pump a maximum*[see Ed. note below] of 1.152 million gallons of water a day from the springs for bottling. Nestlé pays nothing for the water.
Permits have already been approved by the Gilchrist County Commission to expand the bottling facility, which is a short distance from Ginnie Springs off County Road 340.
Seven Springs Water Co. is the local water processor applying for the permit. Vice President Riza Klemens said the company does not discuss permit applications while the process is underway.
The Ginnie Springs plant has operated since 1998. Nestlé Waters bought it in January and owns other water bottling plants in Florida.
“We are evolving our operations to better support the future needs of our business and position the company for long-term success,” said Alex Gregorian, a Nestlé Waters executive vice president, in a written statement at the time of the purchase. “This strategically located facility will enable us to more efficiently serve current and future customers of our popular Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water and Nestlé Pure Life bottled water brands. We look forward to being a part of the High Springs community.”
River advocates are concerned about the proposal. They say the Santa Fe River is losing water and that allowing that much water a day to be pumped out of the spring, which flows into the Santa Fe, is unwise.
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River said every drop of water in the Ginnie Springs is valuable to maintain the river’s health.
“Our Santa Fe River is very concerned about bottling any drops of water out of the Santa Fe basin,” Malwitz-Jipson said. “What is their need, and how can they justify extracting that amount of water when it’s never been done before?”
Those are some of the questions SRWMD wants answered. In a July 12 document addressed to Klemans the district requested information on four issues.
One, the district wants a state-required market analysis and that justifies the need for 1.152 million gallons a day. It has been allowed to withdraw that much under the current permit, but the highest reported water use at the plant during the past four years was 0.2659 million gallons a day.
Two, Nestlé Waters must provide a water budget for the facility that shows potable water use, fire suppression and other needs.
Three, an evaluation of the impact on wetlands of the proposed withdrawal must be shown, including potential harm to threatened or endangered species.
Four, the company must show that the withdrawal will not cause a change in the water levels or flows of the spring from the normal rate and range of function.
*Ed. note. daily average mgd (million gallons per day) withdrawal is 1.152; the peak per month is 1.728; the yearly million gallons per year is 420.480, or four million, four hundred eighty thousand gallons.