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Editorial: Water deal not in state’s best interest

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SRWMD Board votes on Seven Springs’ permit. Photo by Jim Tatum.


Cheers to the Citrus County Chronicle for calling out our waffling Suwannee River Water Management District and the spineless and non-thinking Board of Directors who follow their misguided lawyers like sheep.

Even though our water managers may be afraid to buck the state policy of always giving in to industry, the Board of Directors had the option of voting the right way on the issue, but they unanimously choose not to.

Reasons that were expressed was that the District staff had approved it, and a  DOAH judge had recommended it.  To that board member that was all that was required.  He felt that he was not obligated to even consider the nineteen thousand written  protests that were addressed to him, nor look beyond the bad science that he was told his District staff had used. He probably knew that had he done that, likely he would not be invited back on the board after his current term is up.

The lawyers ran that SRWMD meeting.  District lawyers told the board what they could and could not do, and a Seven Springs lawyer quickly quelled the one timid voice from the board who had a question, and the Executive Director of the District remained silent.

This issue is not over– there are three legal challenges against the District, and OSFR and/or its  members are involved in all three.

Read the original article here in the Citrus County Chronicle.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum

Editorial  Water deal not in state’s best interest

GIVING AWAY WATER   March 24, 2021

THE ISSUE: State gives a for-profit company the OK to withdraw nearly 1 million gallons of water a day for the cost of a $115 permit.

OUR OPINION: A sweet deal for Seven Springs, a sour deal for Florida.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, that is, unless you’re a multi-million-dollar corporation that wants to suck water from the Floridan aquifer.

Last month, the Suwanee River Water Management District approved a deal to let a private company pump nearly a million gallons of water a day from Ginnie Springs for a plastic bottling plant. Seven Springs, which profits greatly through its contract with Nestlé, paid a $115 fee to apply for a permit. That’s all! Nestlé says it pays Seven Springs for the water, but how much is not clear.

The company pipes water from Ginnie Springs, a privately owned park in Gilchrist County, to a nearby Nestlé plant, where it is bottled for personal consumption.

Critics are rightfully outraged, saying the deal is a blow to the environmental stewardship of the state’s natural resources. Seven Springs representatives disagreed the water withdrawal would harm the environment and said water flow issues were reviewed by the water district. The water district initially turned down the permit, but an administrative law judge overturned the decision, so the district said it had no choice but to issue the permit.

Water is both a precious resource and a valued commodity. As such, commercial businesses, industries and most residents have their water metered and must pay for the water consumed. There is no legitimate or rational reason why an international bottling company, or any company, should be allowed by the state to withdraw gargantuan amounts of water for the ridiculous bargain of a permitting fee….

Two state legislators have introduced bills that would set fee schedules for water withdrawal. The extraction tax would be used for wastewater treatment and stormwater management.

Water is an important commodity in the life of the state; why would Floridians want to give it away for free?

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said the deal would be a step backward for the state’s environment.

“The fact that a private company with a small permit fee can be granted permission to pump upwards of a million gallons of water constantly is something that every Floridian should be upset by, no matter where you live in the state,” she said in an online news conference after the decision.

We couldn’t agree more.

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1 Comment

  1. I live in Pensacola Florida, and totally agree. Florida’s water is a natural resource, and should be managed thusly. This is outrageous, and the people of Florida should rise up against it.

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