Local Leaders in Lake Co. Beg Gov. Crist to Veto SB 2080

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Local leaders are begging the Governor in a two-page letter to Charlie Crist, to veto a law that would allow bottled water companies to drain the aquifer secretly.  Continue reading for the letter which was aired on WFTV Orlando, Daytona Beach, Melbourne on Fri. May 29, 2009  The original letter can be found HERE.

Leaders Beg Governor To Veto Water Bill

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

Local leaders are begging the Governor in a two-page letter to Charlie Crist, to veto a law that would allow bottled water companies to drain the aquifer secretly.Senate bill 2080 is headed to the Governor’s desk, which would give water authorities like Saint Johns, permission to give water permits to any company it chooses and they wouldn’t have to tell anyone.The Saint Johns River Water Management is waiting for word on whether the rules for the use of water will change.With Niagara Bottling on the verge of a permit to pull nearly half-a-million gallons of water per day from the Floridian Aquifer near Groveland, a proposed state law would prevent the public from fighting them.”This senate bill with this provision is very, very bad for the public,” Former State Rep. Dick Batchelor.

Batchelor sent a strongly-worded letter to Governor Charlie Crist, criticizing senate bill 2080 as “Egregious, repugnant and a violation of the open public policies of Florida.”

“The short answer, it’s a bad bill, a bad amendment and it needs to be rectified,” said Groveland Mayor Richard Smith.

Richard Smith also contacted Crist. The new law would give the staff of Florida’s Water Management Districts the sole authority to approve or deny water-use permits.

It would cut the district’s governing boards out of the process, limiting the public to oppose the permits.

“Public input is very important to our agency,” said St. Johns River Water Management Spokesman Hank Largin.

Largin says their staff is working on a plan to include the public in the process, should Governor Crist sign the bill.

The City of Groveland already has taken its complaints about the Niagara permit to an administrative law judge and to the St. Johns Governing Board, but Batchelor says if the bill becomes law, Groveland and other towns opposing water-use permits for bottlers would have no way to stop them.

“There is no public access. No public appeal. One person would be given sole authority in this bill,” said Batchelor.

A spokesman for the Governor said Crist didn’t think it sounded like a good idea to move authority from the governing boards and to the water district staff.

Senate bill 2080 is headed to the Governor’s desk, which would give water authorities like Saint Johns, permission to give water permits to any company it chooses and they wouldn’t have to tell anyone.

For more information on this bill and its consequences, continue reading.

Amendments to an otherwise good bill will have the effect of blocking public participation in decisions about the biggest water use permits. The amendments take the citizen appointees on the governing boards of Florida’s five water management districts out of the role of reviewing permits for consumptive uses of water and for wetland and stormwater impacts.

If the bill becomes law the public is blocked from even the biggest decisions about who gets water, how much and from where. Those decisions, rather than being made in bright light of Florida’s “sunshine law” requirements, will be made in backroom deals between agency staff and the developers, farmers and utilities and water bottlers applying for the permits.

Please ask Governor Charlie Crist to veto SB 2080 to keep water resource decisions in the Sunshine and preserve the public’s right to comment on impacts to water resources.

Florida’s water is a public resource and can only be taken by permit. Historically permits are reviewed by governing boards – citizens representing geographic areas and diverse interests – meeting in noticed meetings where ordinary people can participate.

· Last month hundreds of people showed up to object to water being taken from Yankee Lake, part of the St. Johns River, to feed urban growth in Orlando.

· Everglades restoration depends on reducing the quantity of water taken from the environment.

· Tampa Bay solved its regional water conflicts and issued permits in open meetings.

Senate Bill 2080 started out as a noncontroversial bill. It would have added some useful provisions including a “Florida Friendly” landscaping. Unfortunately, at the end of the session, the amendment eliminating public comment to the water management district on any water resource permit proposed

Now SB 2080 delegates all permit approvals to staff and removes those decisions from the board agendas where environmental groups like Audubon have the right to comment. Only permit applicants including developers and utilities will have the right to get a hearing before the board, in the event permits are proposed by the staff of a district to be denied. The citizen appointees on the board are actually prohibited from intervening on behalf of citizens or environmental groups concerned about a permit application.

Water management district governing boards have the ability to levy ad-valorem taxes on your home or business, but now the public won’t even be able to ask those same boards to protect the environment when a specific permit is in front of them.

Please ask Governor Charlie Crist to veto SB 2080 to keep water resource decisions in the Sunshine and preserve the public’s right to comment on impacts to water resources.


Back to top
Skip to content