The following statement explains recent happenings on the Seven Springs/Nestle permit.
The judge’s document (about 44 pages) can be seen here at this link.
DATE: January 21, 2021
FROM: Michael Roth, President of Our Santa Fe River
SUBJECT: Our Santa Fe River statement on the Department of Administrative Hearing Judge’s Recommendation Order on Seven Springs Water Company -vs- Suwannee River Water Management District
A permit to extract and bottle spring water, that was granted to Seven Springs Water more than 26 years ago, is on track for renewal following an Administrative Judge’s Recommended Order that was released yesterday evening. The final decision to approve or deny the permit remains in the hands of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) under the weight of the ALJ ruling. If so approved, the permit will have to be renewed in five years.
In the opinion of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR), a combination of sloppy and inadequate vetting of the permit application by the SRWMD in both 1994 and 2019 coupled with laws and rules that refer to “public interest” without providing a proper definition has led to this outcome.
“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”, said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, advocacy director for OSFR.
Judge Chisenhall’s ruling comes after a nearly two-year battle between the public, the Suwannee River Water Management District and Our Santa Fe River, an all-volunteer organization whose primary purpose is to protect the Santa Fe River. Our Santa Fe River introduced resource depletion and public interest issues that, through legal wrangling by Seven Springs’ attorneys, were deemed inadmissible by the judge. The Judge’s order recommends approval of the reduced permit amount of 984,000 gallons per day (from the original 1.152 mgd) and clarifies that bulk water transfer to Nestle’s Madison Blue Springs would require a permit modification.
Our Santa Fe River is committed to finishing our work to stop this water use permit and protect the Santa Fe River.
Michael Roth, President
Our Santa Fe River