Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

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Drawing water Nestlé wants to pump millions of gallons from Ginnie Springs

ginnie swirko In: Drawing water Nestlé wants to pump millions of gallons from Ginnie Springs | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

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Fe River is designated impaired by the DEP, how can you issue a permit of 1.152 million gallons of water per day to be withdrawn?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-


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Drawing water

Nestlé wants to pump millions of gallons from Ginnie Springs

By Cindy Swirko

Staff writer

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.

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  1. I implore those who have a final say in the decision to PLEASE DENY this application. It is not sustainable for a large corporation to pump water from a spring that is already designated as impaired by the DEP in order to profit from the sale of water in single use plastic bottles. The springs in North Central Florida need and deserve the highest standards of protection for locals and tourists to treasure and benefit from for recreation. The best interests of local residents and taxpayers need to be considered, as well as the negative impact to the environment.

  2. A technical note about terminology: “Impaired” refers to a water body that is polluted. The Santa Fe River may be impaired but it is also “in recovery,” meaning that the State of FL has acknowledged that it has lost flow and measures need to be taken to restore that flow. “Impaired” is a water QUALITY issue; “in recovery” is the water QUANTITY issue that most directly applies to the situation here–the possibility that more water may be taken from the river. Given that water withdrawals within a particular springshed have a cumulative effect on that specific water body, SRWMD would be making a big mistake to permit such a large withdrawal, IMO. But of course, a huge part of the problem is that the Santa Fe River has no legally recognized right to exist and to thrive. Search out information regarding “rights of nature,” “SAFEBOR,” and see for more information about how permits such as this one, though morally & ethically wrong, are completely legal under current state & federal laws.

  3. #SaveOurRiver
    The River Must Roll!
    The fog rolls in, the ripples roll over
    The stillness of life is on the river~
    Trees blow gently, the leaves are falling~
    You can close your eyes, and you can hear it calling…
    Clouds float beyond this beautiful place~
    The wind whispers softly, and leaves not a trace!
    Nature gets ready for a gorgeous day~
    The squirrels all scatter and begin to play!
    Raccoons in the trees are making a chatter~
    Stopping the squirrels from playing to see what’s the matter…
    Hush baby hush, listen to warning~
    Natures beginning to stir, so early in the morning!
    Sun creeps up, one inch at a time~
    And touches the river to make it shine!
    Smooth as glass, the leaf floats by~
    To the current hidden from the
    naked eye.
    Gators are resting in sleeping somber~
    Eyes glazed over as if to ponder!
    Manatees roam and make a playful noise~
    Tumbling, rolling as if they were playing with toys!
    The smell of purity waves through the mind~
    Of times gone by, before the hand of mankind…
    Telling us secrets that need to be told~
    Take these memories and let them take hold.
    Don’t let them come take this away~
    Let us show the children in forever and a day.
    The River still talks and we need it to stay!
    ©️Lisa Tillman

    1. Use the instructions in our related Action Alert to let SRWMD know how you feel. And keep an eye on this column.

  4. Our Santa Fe River is already designated impaired waterway, why is there not a moratorium on water pumping permits. Pumping water is not without impact as it increases harmful pollutants concentrations (nitrate increase every year since 1954), it impacts the ecosystem, our wells, water turbidity and our tourist based economy. Pumping does nothing to restore the river but a $1.00 per gallon local remediation tax would build a timely slush fund to help restore the river or keep the polluters away. According to the International Bottled Water Association water bottling is a $18.5 billion industry, a lot of plastic pollution too!

  5. If any other Columbia county humans had orange water spewing from their wells this past week, please comment! Our well is 80+ ft deep and 20+ years old. I come from a long line of Florida farmers, we respect water!

  6. What I can’t understand is WHY IS NESTLE NOT PAYING FOR THE WATER? What idiot Moron politician gave them the right to the water for FREE? Even at 5 cents a gallon would add up, money needed to fix our water treatment centers, fix septic tank problems & more. If charged 5 cents a gallon for all these years would amount to a lot of money , interesting how Republicans Love Money that they didn’t take the opportunity to make more???? Something STINKS in why they aren’t being charged.
    It’s hard to take the political element out of Florida’s environmental collapse as they are directly related to Politicians starting with Jeb Bush then on to Rick Scott both the 1% are owned by Corporations. Rob Florida’s Environmental collapse is Directly due to Political motivation for the usual reasons SAVING MONEY for Corporations who POLLUTE, no one has enforced laws or & polluters are pretty much allowed to do whatever they want as long as they donate to these the expense of the state & the people who live here. The 1% have not changed, they are out for themselves, they do not see government as an institution to defend and promote the rights and needs of citizens. They see it as an impediment to unrestricted exploitation and profit. Unspoiled land and water to the 1%, are commodities they will use to increase wealth and then discarded. This is how they are wired. The 1% do not propose structural change, they do not want businesses and the marketplace regulated. They seek, rather, a mechanism to exploit America and will continue to transform us into a deindustrialized wasteland so they can continue to feed upon us like swarms of long nose lancet fish, which devour others of their own species. One day when it’s too late, people will understand how politics work. Follow the money

  7. Nestle is stealing from our commons and our children’s future. Swiss multinational Nestle’s business model is to buy up watersheds, sell the water back to the locals as extortion, bottle it up in plastic, and ship it around the world for big profits which go then in part as contributions to politicians who support even more concentrated corporate power and more environmental degradation. Round and round we go–where does it end?

  8. I am a resident of High Springs. I recently had a 200+ year old century oak split in half because of brittleness. The tree surgeon told me that these massive oaks need a good supply of water from the aquifer in order to sustain life. As the aquifer is constantly being depleted, these massive oaks are dying one by one. You can see it all over the area. Their massive root systems are trying to reach down into an ever-lowering water source. The trees are dying. What next?!?

    1. What next ? Unfortunately the highway that has been approved to go from vetrans highway Tampa , all the way to Georgia is cutting thru what little is left of old Florida and will destroy many more trees . 😰

  9. Whatever is unwise, is made okay, whenever someone stands to make some money. Is that the logic here? I know that plant has been shut down in the past. I was told, because, “the people didn’t want it”. Not sure if that’s 100% true. But, I know many who moved and live here love nature, the springs, and respect our ecosystem. Why should we allow one small group to spoil the nature we so enjoy, and require to support life? It is my belief that the water bottling industry has already done significant damage to our planets waterways, watersheds, and normal precipitation cycles. What is the volume of water that sits on the shelves of stores, absorbing toxic chemicals from plastics? Did you know, there is a set amount of water on our planet, that has never, and will never change? Every drop that was here thousands of years ago, is here today. Whether it’s a drop involved in nature’s cleansing cycle, or a drop forever polluted, we get to decide (for the most part). Make bottled water go away please.

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