TOWN OF FORT WHITE, FLORIDA TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
DATE: MONDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2019
TIME: 7:00 P.M.
PLACE: FORT WHITE TOWN HALL
118 SW WILSON SPRINGS RD
Here is a link to the agenda.
D. DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: OPPOSITION OF THE PROPOSED PERMIT RENEWAL TO SEVEN SPRINGS WATER COMPANY
As members of the greater Fort White community and the town itself, please participate in this public meeting and ask this rural town to oppose a water use permit right down the road. Ask the Council to send a Resolution, much like the what Columbia County just voted on recently,requesting the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) to deny this water use permit.
Bottled Water Use Permit at Ginnie Springs
This is a 20 year old water use permit for bottling spring water that needs to get a new permit because it expired June 2019. The entire allocation Seven Springs Water Company requested is 1,152,000 gallons of water for single use bottled water purposes taken directly from a conduit connected to Ginnie Spring.
There are two 10″ wells on the Ginnie Springs Campground land where the water is taken then put into a pipeline to the bottling plant on CR 340. The access to this pipeline is part of the lease arrangement with the bottling plant to secure the spring water from Seven Springs Water Company.
There have been three bottling companies (AquaPenn, CCDA, and Ice River Springs) that have owned the plant over the time span of 20 years. The maximum water extracted for bottling at this plant has been an average of 265,900 gallons per day. At no point in time has Seven Springs Water Company owned the bottling plant, they only own the water use permit.
Columbia County Board of County Commissioners took a stand opposing the Seven Springs Water Company permit via Resolution, October 3, 2019.
Alachua County voted to send a letter recommending a limit of 186,130 gallons per day. This was calculated based on daily average use minus 30% that Dr. Bob Knight recommends that all existing users need to reduce in order to restore historical spring flows.
The Santa Fe River system is a recharge waterway. Where there are springs, there are sucks, siphons and swallets. The remaining surface freshwater flowing out to sea is absolutely necessary for the estuaries at Cedar Key. The permits being issued at the state water management district are considered a death by a thousand cuts to our freshwater ecosystems.
Florida Statutes dictate that our water managers use the 3 prong test be applied to all aspects of this and all permitting processes. 1. Is it reasonable and beneficial? 2. Does it harm existing users? 3. Is it in the public interest?
Other items to consider:
1. Traffic/Concurrency issues. Bulk transfer trucks hold 6,000 gallons. A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. There is a need to address red lights, noise abatement and signage to the facility, as truckers have been known to get lost on our rural roads.
2. Dr. Todd Kincaid Report http://springseternalproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/9-30-09-Kincaid-presentation.pdf)
3. Historical Fort White Gage Station Report 1930 – 2020
5. Fort White utilizes approx. 31,219,150 gallons per year. 20 years ago under this existing bottled water permit, Seven Springs Water Company was permitted 420,480,000 gallons per year. This is 14 times Fort White’s water use daily.
6 Municipality water infrastructure problems in High Springs that need to be fixed first.
7. Bureau of Economic Business Research shows growth in inland Florida, giving our water away for free does not serve the greater good.
Finally, it is imperative that we consider and compare the economic impact of this small business versus tourism based on our springs. The following study (“Economic Contributions and Ecosystem Services of Springs in the Lower Suwannee and Santa Fe River Basins of North-Central Florida, by UF”)
was from 2008 to 2013. In the last six years recreation use of the Santa Fe River has increased a great deal so the differences are even greater than the study shows.
Total recreational use at all springs sites (and related Santa Fe River activities) was estimated to average slightly over one million visitor-days annually during the 2008–2013 period. Attendance averaged over 100,000 visitor-days annually at several of these springs. In addition, the total number of diving visitor days was estimated at around 57,000 annually. The estimated share of non-local visitors to the springs from outside the nine-county study area was typically about 70 percent for most of the sites studied. Total annual visitor spending attributed to springs recreation was estimated at $83.8 million, including $45.2 million by non-local visitors.
The estimated total economic contributions of recreational spending (due to direct spending, supply chain activity and income re-spending) included employment of 1,160 full-time and part-time jobs, labor income of $30.42 million annually, value added of $52.58 million annually, and industry output (revenue) of $94 million annually. The value added contribution is comparable to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Tax revenue impacts to local/state governments totaled $6.56 million, and impacts to the federal government were $6.57 million. The largest tax impact items for local/state governments were property taxes ($4.13 million) and sales taxes ($1.58 million). In addition, the total consumer surplus for the fifteen spring sites in the study area was estimated at $9.44 million annually.
The rural Fort White area is not an industrial region but known throughout the world for its unique and outstanding springs. It behooves us here to limit industry and preserve our springs as that is what we are and what we do, better than anyone else anywhere.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-