Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

Be Informed.

Sawdust Springs Water Bottling Permit Application, Columbia County


Hello Everyone,
First, allow me apologize for any delay in sending this out.  We just received the update last week even though it was submitted to the SRWMD at the beginning of August.
Here is yet another water bottling permit (WUP) on our Santa Fe River that we have been watching for years and now it has surfaced again.
Here is a brief story of how this one came to be…

Langston Holland requested and received a water bottling permit for 150,000 gallons daily withdraw from the Suwannee River Water Management District in 2000. He planned to pump from a well in the ground near the Santa Fe River at Sawdust Springs (directly across from Ginnie Springs tube exit) in Columbia County. In 2000 the original plan was to bulk transfer.

 Holland sold his WUP in a land transaction to Stephen Cheeseman in 2005.  Cheeseman and Holland were lawyers in Tampa.  Cheeseman also owns apartment buildings in Lake City (Columbia County).  And he owns a ranch/vacation home on the Santa Fe River off CR 138 in Ft. White.    Cheeseman also bought 7 other parcels of land to connect the Santa Fe River to CR 138.  He changed the name of the spring, kind of, by calling his business Santa Fe Springs, LLC in the hopes of getting the unappetizing name of Sawdust left in the dust.  He planned to bulk transfer his spring water to a building in Ft. White to process and bottle his loot.  Trucks coming and going past his home and through the town out to the interstate.  He wanted to purchase water from the town of Ft. White to make up for any difference in his water needs (the town of Ft. White has been combating known carcinogens in it’s water for years).

The district tried to revoke his permit a few years ago because of lack of use and asked Cheeseman to provide certain conditions to keep his permit active. One thing he needed was to show a letter of intent to build a facility.  He contracted with Kent Harriss Construction, Inc. Fine Custom Homes, Lake City, to build a 10,000 square foot facility on SR 27 in the town of Ft. White city limits.  And the letter was filed August 2007.  He had 2 years to commence construction or file yet another letter of intent.

AND…now, August 2009, he filed more paperwork with the SRWMD claiming that he will connect the Santa Fe River to a future facility on SR 27 via a pipeline on Fry Road and in a Progress Energy right of way (under powerlines) .

I have talked with Columbia County officials and they tell me with confidence that they have not had any conversations recently with Mr. Cheeseman about building a pump station on the Santa Fe River or a pipeline to SR 27.  I have talked to Progress Energy and they do not know about any of these plans.  I have not talked to the town of Ft. White because the pipeline and the pump station are permits that Columbia County must grant.  OSFR knows that Cheeseman has not appeared in any Ft. White town hall meetings to ask for a build permit for a 10,000 square foot facility.

 I talked to the district and they are legally bound, at the moment, to grant the modifications to his permit, except for one minor exception…extend the permit from 4 years requested to 2 years, keeping it active.  PLEASE READ THE ATTACHMENT TO UNDERSTAND.  The district says they cannot get involved with any of the politics of how land is used.  They are only involved with water use and if Cheeseman gets a building permit he must apply for an Environmental Regulation Permit (ERP) from SRWMD.

 I realize this one is a bit more complicated because he purchased an existing WUP.  The science was officially completed by Karst Environmental back in 2000.  I have not seen any current science.

What a pipe dream!  Geesh!  A pipeline in north Florida is just inviting more pipelines.  In 2003 in Cross City a thousand people turned out to stop a pipeline to south Florida.  Last year OSFR encouraged hundreds of people to stop a water bottling plant on the other side of the Santa Fe River in Gilchrist County.

The neighborhoods surrounding the Santa Fe River do NOT want more water bottling plants coming into our area.

Cheeseman claims 15 to 50 jobs in Ft. White and he also says he will help for disaster relief.  Under current depletions in the Floridan Aquifer and diminished flows from the springs, the loose promise of jobs and disaster relief are certainly not a terrific trade for our water.

You may ask want to ask Linda Welch, staff at SRWMD, to be on the e-mail list for interested and/or affected party regarding WUP00-0040M3.
AND… there is this meeting:

September 8,  3 pm
SRWMD Governing Board Meeting
at Headquarters in Live Oak
Jon Dinges, Water Resource Director, plans on bring this to the attention of the SRWMD Board as an information item (# 23 on the agenda)
If any of you have time to make this meeting…you may have an opportunity to speak out against it.  I’m not sure it will do too much to change their minds as far as issuing the modifications.  BUT, I will definitely be there.  If you go…Please take the time to know the situation by reading the modification request in this attachment.  Maybe there is something in here that you can see with fresh eyes that we have overlooked.  I would like to entertain a way to put an end to this WUP that could effectively continue to be modified indefinitely.  Got any ideas?

By the way….Nestle, Madison Blue Springs, is on the Agenda too.

And to change the subject:
please see this terrific opportunity in Ft. White this coming week:
look at their website for more info.

Ichetucknee Partnership Meeting/Open House
City Fort White
Place Fort White Community Center
Address SR 47 South
Details Educational displays, presentations and a book signing by Fort White students will be part of this outreach to Columbia County citizens interested in learning more about local efforts to protect the Ichetucknee and how they can become involved.
Start Date Thursday, September 10, 2009
Start Time 6:30 PM
End Time 8:30 PM
Additional Information Cindy Johnson, Ichetucknee Partnership coordinator
Phone 800.226.1066
Web Address
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson
president, Our Santa Fe River, Inc.

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