OSFR President Mike Roth Addresses the SRWMD Board

srjuly18mike In: OSFR President Mike Roth Addresses the SRWMD Board | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
Mike Roth addresses the SRWMD board in 2019. Photo by Jim Tatum.

This is the letter that OSFR president Mike Roth read to the Suwannee River Water Management Board of Directors and the last virtual meeting held on August 11.  They were expected to vote on the Seven Springs Water Company’s permit application, but it was tabled.

Mike Roth makes some valid points that are very hard to refute.  If the board has a true interest in fulfilling their mission to protect the rivers, they must look beyond their politically motivated staff and question their science and their motives.

One example:  if the science is sound, why are the rivers dying?  Their science has failed in the past  and is failing now.

Our thanks to Mike Roth and to the 18 thousand others who wrote letters to the board.

Board members, did you read them?

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

In the last Minimum Flows and Levels (MFL) teleconference as you know there was to be no public input.  Comments from letters and the prior meeting were consolidated by Dr. Dunn, the lead peer review panelist, into just seven points.  After much discussion, the panelists opted to disregard the public comments as either duplicative or unsupported, and determined that public comments were for the district to deal with, which was disconcerting.

Here on the cusp of the establishment of an MFL that allows even more consumptive use, I as a taxpayer resent having $50 million of my money just this year used to restore water that you are allowing private interests to take. Despite these inflows of OUR cash, the system continues to degrade and will require hundreds of millions of dollars to remediate after you’re gone, and commercial interests have taken their profits. You were installed to protect my interests, and I don’t believe that you are doing that.

You start every meeting – illegally, I would suggest – asking god to help you make the right decisions, and I suspect that helps ease your conscience as you proceed to willfully allow the bounties that she provided you to continue to be eroded and despoiled.

It’s not too late to change and do the job you were actually chosen to do. The MFL reevaluation will be in your lap soon, and you can start a true recovery process with a beneficial determination at that time.

As to the Seven Springs permit, what will it take for you to hear the public saying that it does not want this permit to be approved?  We came up with almost 400,000 people that say, like I do, that we are tired of spending millions in taxpayer dollars to continue to try to restore our waterways on one end while you are siphoning it off to privateers on the other.  Even you came up with over 18,000 respondents on your own portal critical of this permit.

Granting this permit will effectively triple the withdrawal rate of one of the next springs to brown out.  While you are busy tweaking and data infilling on models to show how much disposable water there is, a simple look at the springs and the river demonstrates that there must be something wrong with the science that you are using.

As the president of Our Santa Fe River, I wish with all my might that there were an agency with some power interested in preserving the river and springs that we volunteers fight to protect and defend, but I fear there is not.  And as a citizen of Florida and a property owner on the Santa Fe I am furious you are empowered to take my hard earned dollars and effectively hand them to private interests by using the money to keep the waters available for their taking.

This permit not only fails in reasonableness and public interest tests, but also ethical, logic, long term economic and decency tests.  It’s not too late – either turn this permit request down, or at least vote to maintain the already harmful average level that it has used for twenty years.


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