The Suwannee River Water Management District met today with a heavy agenda that Board Chairman Don Quincey was unable to unload within the normal allotted time. An unusual amount of time was spent discussing the El Ranch No Tengo legal case in Columbia Co., on-going for approximately nine and one half years.
No new large excessive permits were granted during this session, but OSFR Policy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson made the trek to the podium one more time with the request for a moratorium on such permits.
During the course of the meeting when discussing the possibility of entering a contract with a company to study nutrient removal, mention was made of a DEP report (“Nitrate in Ground Water, Springs, and River Water in the Santa Fe Springs Restoration Focus Area”) outlining dangerous excessive nitrates in certain wells in Alachua and Gilchrist Counties. This report was recently presented at the Santa Fe River Springs Protection Forum by Brian Katz of the DEP. Ensuing discussion later in the meeting revealed that neither the board nor the staff knew the location of the two most egregiously toxic wells, but this was provided by audience member Steve Gladin who lives in the area.
Chief of Hydrologic Data Services Tom Mirti gave a detailed report of last month’s rainfall and the status of the surface and groundwater. Much of the Santa Fe basin received above average rainfall in the past month, although the only graph depicting river flow statistics in the lower Santa Fe (Fort White station) in the last year seems not to reflect that. Compare the other graphs in the image below with the Fort White one.
Earlier posts (Reverse Thinking, Back to the Question of Polluters & Public Interest) on this website out lined subsidies to legal polluters to reduce both water consumption and contaminants. Today $181,000 was approved for Hilltop Dairy of Gilchrist Co. for a recycled flush water program which would reduce water use by 340,000 gpd.
A final item of interest is the short slate of candidates for the Executive Director of the district. As of today these are Carlos Herd, Interim Director, Dale Williams, County Administrator of Columbia County, set to retire from that position in October, and Stanley Posey, environmental consultant and environmental lawyer of Tallahassee. The decision will be made by September, subject to approval by the governor and Senate.
We could note that the next Governing Board meeting will be on Sept. 8, 2015, and will begin at 3:00 pm followed by the First Public Hearing on FY 2016 Budget at 5:05 pm.