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Indeed it is the “same ol’ politics” which fools no one and of which we are totally tired. The people’s patience is running thin as they watch our tax dollars go to pay the salaries of those killing our best resources to give profit to whom? Frank Stronach for one. Anyone else?
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
New science or same ol’ politics?
It’s a miracle. After three years of intensive study that concluded pumping millions of gallons of water from the aquifer to irrigate thousands of acres of cattle pasture just a stone’s throw from Silver Springs would harm the springs and Silver River, water district officials now say they have recalculated the data and discovered there is more water than originally believed.
The St. Johns Governing Board is set to vote on the permit expansion Tuesday in Palatka. Environmental groups are planning to show up in force to protest the district’s sudden turnaround, claiming the new recommendation is not based on sound science but rather on politically driven fuzzy math. The board should reject the request until the district explains in full its sudden water find, especially since rivers, springs and lakes throughout the district continue to show declining levels — a reflection of the district’s increasingly obvious focus on issuing permits rather than protecting our water supply.
After three years of analysis, the St. Johns staff in 2014 found not only that Sleepy Creek’s original request for 13 mgd abd then 6 mgd would be harmful to the springs and the rivers they feed, but also that Marion County is over-permitted. That means district scientists found the county has permits issued to pump more water than the aquifer can actually provide long term.
Shortly after that shocking announcement, there was a house cleaning at the St. Johns headquarters, including the executive director and many of those involved in the Sleepy Creek analyses.
A key component of the new “model” involves combining both the Silver and Rainbow springs watersheds when calculating water supply. This raises questions since the two watersheds flow in different directions — toward the springs themselves — and are separated by a ridge in western Marion County.
But the bigger issue is the water district’s — all five of them, really — insistence that there is plenty of water when a billionaire like Frank Stronach comes knocking but then issue repeated warnings that we do not have enough groundwater to meet Florida’s needs a generation down the road. It can’t be both ways.
Finding ways to issue water permits clearly has become the primary focus of our water management districts, especially under the regime of Gov. Rick Scott. While preservation and protection of our water resources gets plenty of lip service and even some public dollars, Florida’s water districts work overtime looking for ways to accommodate the water needs of big business and big agriculture, regardless of how much damage they might do. Even if it means coming up with a new model for calculation.
The sudden about-face on Sleepy Creek smells of same old politics rather than new science. Silver Springs and the rivers it feeds, the Silver and the Ocklawaha, are already deemed “impaired” by the same water managers who are now suggesting we pump more water from the aquifer to feed thousands of head of cattle. Show us a model where that makes sense. — This editorial was written by the Ocala Star-Banner, one of The Sun’s sister publications.
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