The staff of the Suwannee River Water Management District has done a 180 degree about face and is now recommending to the board that they grant the pumping permit to Seven Springs Water Company. Seven Springs will sell the water to Nestle. The vote will be taken at the virtual meeting next Tuesday August 11.
Below is the letter the district sent out:
Dear Sir or Madam,
The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) previously received your comments related to Water Use Permit renewal application number 2-041-218202-3 (Seven Springs Water Company, Gilchrist County).
This correspondence is to serve as a notification that the Administrative Law Judge has relinquished jurisdiction relative to consideration of this application back to the District, and both the application and revised staff recommendation will be considered by the District’s Governing Board at its August 11, 2020 public meeting held by webinar from Live Oak, Florida at 9:00 am EDT. The webinar will include a call-in number for you to address the Board regarding this application if you so choose.
Board materials including the meeting call-in number, webinar information, staff recommendation, and technical staff report can be found at: http://mysuwanneeriver.com/137/Board-Meeting-Materials
Suwannee River Water Management District | MySuwanneeRiver.com | 9225 CR 49, Live Oak, FL 32060
What can you do?
Several things, but probably the most important thing you can do is to attend the virtual meeting and tell the board something meaningful about how the board must protect these springs which is their duty as water board managers.
How do you do this? Go to the link for Board Meeting Materials above and click on the Board Meeting Agenda, where you will see the phone number and a link to attend the meeting. This is the link to register to attend the virtual meeting: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3310540859352809487
Next, write each board member this week and ask them to deny the permit. Here is a link to all the board members: http://www.srwmd.org/134/Current-Board-MembersClick Here for a Sample Letter to the SRWMD Governing Board
If you want to help us stop this permit, get involved now. Do not expect others to do it for you. There has been lots of help from citizen participation. The local organizations and public have kept the permit at bay for nearly 1.5 years. But next week is the week of reckoning… the Board vote. If this permit gets approved, Our Santa Fe River is ready with lawyers and experts. Of course, we need help paying for them. OSFR is a local completely volunteer not-for-profit organization that has no paid staffers and works to keep our water resources protected for our environment and future generations, and OSFR does not stockpile money. If the 18,000 plus people who wrote comments to the water managers asking them to deny the permit gave $10 to the lawsuit, OSFR would have enough to fight hard and win! Fighting for good science and public interest against a frivolous water use permit. www.oursantaferiver.org
Some important points about this permit:
- The owners of Ginnie Springs Outdoors campground also own Seven Springs Water Company.
- Based on the Santa Fe River’s existing minimum flow and level our river is deemed to be in “recovery,” yet the District wants to allow more pumping, which will further draw down the river and delay the recovery time. Does this make sense?
- The permit can not be given if the District says it is not in the public interest. Here, clearly the interest that of a private company and not the public.
- The product, bottled water, is not a product needed by the public.
- Most of the plastic bottles will end up as trash, many in the river and in the road ditches. Within the next five years, Nestle anticipates operating four product lines at the Gilchrist County facility, one renovated line capable of producing 1350 half-liter bottles per minute (BPM), and three new lines capable of producing 1500 BPM.
- Adherence to our water laws would certainly result in a denial of the permit, but in Florida, industry rules from the governor on down. Our laws are such that “bribery” is legal because it is lawful to give unlimited funds to lawmakers so they will vote for your interests. For big companies, this is simply operating expenses.
- It is ethically wrong for a private company to take a natural resource such as water from a river owned by the public and maintained with taxpayer money and sell it back to them for a profit. And while doing so, further damage that river.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back