Jim Tatum and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson: Bottling permit would contribute to Ginnie Springs’ demise
Nestle is running scared. And rightly so. Nestle, the largest water bottler in the world, has hit a wall of opposition from springs lovers in the Santa Fe River basin where the company wants to increase fourfold its extraction from Ginnie Springs.
In a mighty show of arrogance, Nestle invested over $40 million to expand its facilities without having a guaranteed supplier. Its source, Seven Springs Water Company, owner of Ginnie Springs, had its 20-year-old permit expire in June, upwards of a year ago, and so far has been unable to get it renewed.
Big corporations, such as Nestle and Mosaic, often invest millions in additional equipment before acquiring new necessary permits. This is a bullying tactic, which sends the message that they can do whatever they want when they want and that the permitting agencies must bow to their wishes.
Nestle is scared because of recent resistance it has met concerning drawing down even more the already impaired Devil’s Eye complex that includes Ginnie, and the Santa Fe River to which it supplies water. Four-hundred thousand signed petitions were handed over to the Suwannee River Water Management District and there are nearly 18,000 comments into the district’s permit portal by opponents.
Virtually the only supporters are a few local Nestle employees who do not tell the true story of Nestle, hated worldwide for its well-documented destruction of the environment and lack of ethics and compassion for human beings.
Additional indications are the new flurry of television advertisements, which portray an inaccurate image of Nestle and omit their destruction and pollution. Nestle touts sustainability and recycling as reasons it is a good corporation. Sustainability is a lie and recycling is totally irrelevant because we should not have nor do we need water in plastic in the first place. This is like throwing garbage all over your neighbor’s lawn, and then wanting praise from him for picking up a little bit, but still leaving a mess.
Sustainability is a hoax. The fact that the Santa Fe is in recovery means its flows are constantly decreasing over the decades due to over-pumping. This, plus the fact that the aquifer is also falling consistently for the same reason, proves that this river is not being sustained.
Seven Springs, Nestle’s supplier, admits that its pumping will draw down the river and springs even more and this will delay the recovery of the river instead of sustaining it. This same fact absolutely disproves Seven Springs’ owners’ false claim that they are “motivated to preserve the land and protect this natural resource because it is integral to their business.” Pulling more water from a spring that is already below its norm is not preserving it, it is contributing to its demise.
Nestle did nothing during the crisis from the recent Valdosta sewage spill into the Withlacoochee River, compromising its water source at Madison Blue Springs.
Finally, we hesitate to address this, but Nestle supporters keep bringing it up: that it’s OK to take the water from the spring because if we don’t, it will just flow down to the Gulf of Mexico and be wasted. We must choose our words carefully to reply to those believing this so we will be understood.
Pretend you have a full barrel of water with a spigot a few inches from the top. Open the spigot and the water that comes out is like the water from the top of the spring which flows down to the Gulf. At the same time put in a straw and suck water from the barrel. If you suck enough water from the barrel, the water level will be below the spigot and so no more water will flow from there. Your “spring” has dried up.
Additionally, oyster beds in the Gulf are dependent on the flow of fresh water to survive. All nature is connected, sometimes in ways we may not yet understand.
Help save your river and stop buying bottled water.
Jim Tatum and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson are board members of Our Santa Fe River Inc.