Judge: Ginnie withdrawal OK

mmjLAKEcityreporter In: Judge: Ginnie withdrawal OK | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson speaks to lawmakers about bottled water. Photo by Tony Britt used with permission from the Lake City Reporter.

If Nestle has its way, the number of plastic bottles going out from Ginnie and into our planet will not be in the thousands but trillions.  While they are putting this unimaginable amount of trash into our river, roadsides, streets, landfills and bodies, they will also be negatively impacting our springs, river and aquifer.  The Santa Fe River is in the official status of “recovery” and the state spends millions on its maintenance so Nestle can draw our water from it and sell it for profit.

Write a postcard to SRWMD BOAD MEMBERS, 9225 CR 49, LIVE OAK, FL  32060

Just say “no Seven Springs permit” and please put your address.


Read the original article here in the Lake City Reporter.

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

Judge: Ginnie withdrawal ok

Water Management recommended to approve permit for Seven Springs

January 22, 2021

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In addition to memories and good times, Ginnie Springs may soon supply thousands of extra containers of bottled spring water. A state Division of Administrative Hearings judge issued an order Wednesday recommending that the Suwannee River Water Management District approve Seven Springs Water Company’s application for a five-year renewal of its permit to pull nearly 1 million gallons of water per day from the springs for its High Springs bottling plant.

In issuing the recommended order, Garnett W. Chisenhall dismissed the district’s claims for denial based on Seven Springs not owning the plant — Nestle Waters North America owns the facility and purchases the water from Seven Springs — that it can use that much water and that it only plans to use the water at that Gilchrist County facility.

Seven Springs “proved by a preponderance of the evidence that its renewal application should be approved,” Chisenhall wrote in a summary of the decision. The order comes after a nearly two-year battle between Seven Springs, the Water Management District and environmental groups over the permit renewal request of drawing 1.152 million gallons per day out of the springs and the aquifer.

While the plant has never exceeded 25 percent of that allotment of water, Nestle Waters North America has renovated the nearby bottling plant in order to increase production with plans to add two additional production lines, according to Seven Springs’ application.

The upgraded line can bottle up to 1,300 bottles per minute, nearly doubling the previous production, according to the recommended order. Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River, a non-profit advocacy group, previously said the original permit application from 1996 had little scientific support to show it wouldn’t damage the water supply. The average flow of the river, though, has declined by 30-40% over the past 20 years, according to research from Robert Knight, an environmental scientist at the University of Florida and the director of the Florida Springs Institute.

After Warren Zwanka, the Water Management District’s Resource Management Division director, recommended the district’s board originally deny the permit in March due to Seven Springs not providing its contract with Nestle to provide the water, the two groups negotiated a settlement to avoid the administrative hearing.

As part of that negotiation, Seven Springs agreed to reduce its maximum withdrawal amount to 0.9840 million gallons per day. The board, though, still didn’t approve the permit at its August 2020 meeting, tabling the vote with a request to add Nestle as a co-applicant. Back in the Division of Administrative Hearings’ hands, Chisenhall said the renewal needs to happen.

While Seven Springs doesn’t own the bottling plant, the judge wrote that the company “provided competent, substantial, and unrebutted evidence of the contractual obligation” to provide the water for Nestle and the “obligation for all water to be used at the High Springs bottling plant.”

The contract between Seven Springs and Nestle is through 2096. Chisenhall said the district’s claim that Seven Springs didn’t show they could use that much water was dismissed because the company agreed to lower the amount requested and proved with the upgrades that new amount was possible, which a SRWMD expert also testified was possible.  He said any plans to use the water for bottling at Nestle’s plant in Madison County would require a modified permit application.

“As a result of this order, a water draw that has averaged less than 300,000 gallons per day from an already declining spring system will be increased to 984,000 gallons per day as between 4,800 and 6,000 new plastic bottles per minute are filled,” Malwitz-Jipson said in a prepared statement.

Michael Roth, the president of Our Santa Fe River, vowed the group will continue to battle. “Our Santa Fe River is committed to finishing our work to stop this water use permit and protect the Santa Fe River,” Roth said.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve seen the low water levels in the springs . I’ve been here 62 years and have never seen the river so low. Seven springs has no right to sign our local water supply away it belongs to the people who live here and pay taxes.

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