A large crowd attended the Suwannee River Water Management District board meeting on Tues., Jan 12 in Live Oak, among them at least seven OSFR members. And WCJB-TV sent a reporter to interview OSFR Policy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson.
Of laudable actions, the board voted to authorize the execution of a land swap deal with Gilcrist County to enable the district to make improvements to the park at the Hwy 47 bridge south of Fort White. This oft-neglected park has been a renovation project for OSFR in the recent past, but can certainly use more help. This type of project is where the district shines.
Of major interest to many in attendance was the issue of the chicken factory dubbed JTC Chicken Farm, but which has nothing to do with farming nor agriculture, it is an industrial on-going. And on-going it is, at lickity speed utilizing its single ERP permit which allows it to sail past all the agencies caught napping when they should have scrutinized this situation in its inception.
As many today said at the meeting, there is a cry for action to prevent another similar occurrence, possibly the best that can be hoped for at this late stage. Counselor Reeves gave a simple and brief history of the lawsuit filed by a resident who challenged the action of the Environmental Resource Permit near the end of last year, and whose status is “on-going negotiations,” which prevented the counselor from further comments at this time.
The many and logical arguments for prohibiting such endeavors in the delicate and fragile location in which it is sited have been listed and expressed many times already and will not be repeated here. Adding strength to the opposition voiced by OSFR and many other locals was the spokesperson for the Ichetucknee Alliance, who thoroughly condemned the industrial facility and those allowing it.
Among other actions undertaken by the board was the witnessing of a presentation of the rule development for the Florida Administrative Code for Minimum Flows and Levels for the Aucilla/Wacissa and Econfina Rivers. The terminology sounded so very familiar and repeated the mind-set of the managers who see their mission as withdrawing amounts which will lower the “natural level” just as far as they can go, but leave the river without “significant harm,” which is a vague and undefined term.
These “scientists” back each other up by having peers reassure each other that their science is sound, making it easy for the board to unanimously approve it. Meanwhile, the aquifer drops, the flow levels drop and springs dry up.
Another day at the water board.