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We should add that the 2035 plan for water use in the two water districts of Suwannee River and St Johns River shows a deficit for which the districts have no sustainable solution. It is a fact that our aquifer is sinking faster than rainfall can replenish it yet our water districts continue to give out pumping permits.
Why? Because industry runs our governor and Legislature. If the water districts do not kowtow to industry, staff will be fired.
Even though water bottlers suck out less than some industries, they still add to the drawdown deficit, bottled water is often less pure than tap water, and very importantly, they cause a great deal of plastic pollution. Additionally, unlike agriculture, bottled water is not a product needed by the people except perhaps during short times of crisis. Stopping bottling plants is a very quick and easy way to begin restoration of our impaired springs, rivers and aquifer.
The Jan. 4, 2021 letter that OSFR wrote to Columbia County which Ms. Swirko refers to near the end of the article can be found here at the end of this post.
The Gainesville Sun has not provided a link to this article.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Another bottler wants area’s H2O
Lake City, Columbia County put on brakes
Gainesville Sun USA TODAY NETWORK Jan. 8, 2021
Another bottled water company wants to put a straw in North Central Florida’s aquifer and is encountering opposition.
Niagara, a California-based bottler, has proposed pumping up to nearly 2.9 million gallons a day from the aquifer. It would be bottled at a Columbia County industrial park in a three-party project with the city and county to get permitting and build the plant.
However, Lake City has indicated it will not approve the deal and the county’s economic development advisory board has recommended that the County Commission also pass.
“Given the proposed requirements of the County, the City’s indication that it would not enter into a threeway contract, and the tight deadlines set by (Niagara), the advice of the (advisory board) was not to move forward with this economic development agreement,” wrote Commissioner Tim Murphy, the advisory board’s chairman.
The Niagara proposal comes as Nestle Waters is trying to expand its bottling plant adjacent to Ginnie Springs.
Seven Springs Water Co., associated with ownership of the Ginnie Springs Outdoors park, has filed for permitting to expand the water it draws for the Nestle plant.
That permit is the subject of a complaint by Seven Springs with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings while a decision on it is pending with the Suwannee River Water Management District. The district has received tens of thousands of comments from people worldwide opposed to the permit and critical of Nestle for its global bottled water operations.
Niagara’s bottling would start with 650,000 gallons a day to be provided by Lake City.
Pumping and would be ramped up to nearly 2.9 million gallons a day, providing the county gets a consumptive use permit from the water management district.
Niagara did not respond to phone and email messages from The Sun on Thursday.
The permit sought by Seven Springs is for Nestle to pump up to 1.152 million gallons a day at Ginnie Springs.
Other bottling operations exist in the Suwannee district and elsewhere in Florida.
Under Florida law, water in the aquifer can be tapped by property owners at no cost. Water bottlers do not pay the state for water, though they may pay landowners.
Bottlers said they are providing a needed service in selling water. Critics say the bottlers are endangering spring and river ecosystems and taking state water for profit.
The aquifer along the Florida/Georgia border including Columbia County is also under stress from increased municipal pumping by the city of Jacksonville and other high-growth coastal areas.
Groundwater research has shown depletion from Jacksonville across the region. The pumping is considered at least partially to blame for White Springs, which historically drew tourists to soak in the sulphur water, running dry.
Permits for that municipal pumping are issued by the St. Johns River Water Management District, which has developed programs to better coordinate with the Suwannee district.
The two districts have created a joint plan for water supplies into 2035. Amy Brown, SRWMD water supply chief, said progress is being made.
“The plan details projected growth, projects that can be implemented and it details that we are going to need to be planning for our future water supply to ensure that we’re meeting our demand,” Brown said. “We are still working on identifying more projects and more options. There hasn’t been the same growth in water use recently that we saw prior to this greater scrutiny of the potential impacts of water use on natural systems.”
Environmental groups say the districts are not doing enough in terms of both bottling companies and pumping by municipalities.
Among those groups is Our Santa Fe River, which wrote to oppose the Niagara project and has fought the Nestle permit.
“These issues are huge to us. Our organization is extremely concerned,” said Merrilee Malwitz-Jipson. “Who controls the water is a really important part of all of this.”