Very interesting reading here, since we see not one but two water management districts denying a permit to agriculture. We are not able to judge the seriousness of the flaw nor the intent of the districts. It may be easily modified and the permit may soon be given. On the other hand, perhaps not. The counter by the farms, listed below, is also interesting, putting in back on DEP.
We would like to think that the new water board in South Florida, which includes our hero Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch and other actual good people, is indeed serious in their intent. We would also like to think that maybe St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman’s efforts may be in play. We wonder if the absence of ex-forever chair John Mikos from St. Johns might be a factor?
For the best.
Read the original article here in TC Palm.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
The crash in Okeechobee County blocked traffic in both directionsCONTRIBUTED VIDEO BY ANTHONY CRUZ
The St. Johns River Water Management District has joined the effort to deny a permit for a farm straddling the St. Lucie-Indian River county line proposing to process sewage sludge into fertilizer.
The district filed paperwork late Friday seeking to intervene in a hearing over the South Florida Water Management District’s denial of a permit for Sunbreak Farms.
Sunbreak is 90 percent in St. Lucie County, part of the South Florida water district, and 10 percent in Indian River County, which is in the St. Johns River water district.
The farm needs a permit from the South Florida district for its plan to take in about 20,000 tons of sewage sludge, known as Class B biosolids, a year and compost it with about 60,000 tons of yard and agricultural waste to make fertilizer for about 6,580 acres of crops, primarily corn. Biosolids are partially treated human waste.
Officials in Indian River and St. Lucie counties already have filed similar petitions supporting the permit denial and asking to be parties in a hearing before an administrative judge, which the farm’s attorneys requested.
South Florida water district officials are still reviewing the hearing request, spokesman Randy Smith said Monday, and a hearing has not been scheduled
With “the list of intervenors growing,” Smith said, a delay is likely.
Class B biosolids can contain high levels of bacteria and heavy metals that are supposed to be removed during the composting process that turns the material into what’s called Class AA biosolids, which are classified as fertilizer and unregulated.
They also contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which aren’t removed during composting and can spark toxic algae blooms. Critics of the project say heavy rains could cause the nutrients to drain into a canal leading to the Indian River Lagoon.
South Florida district officials denied the permit because plans for the farm don’t include a monitoring system to show “pollution abatement practices proposed in the design are functioning properly.”
Sunbreak officials countered the design of the project is “dictated” by the permit they already have from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and they “are not at liberty to deviate” from what that permit requires.
Protecting and restoring water quality is a “core mission” of the St. Johns River water district, officials said in their petition, and water quality monitoring is “critical” to the district’s work.
Biosolids use is suspected of polluting Blue Cypress Lake, part of the St. Johns River headwaters in western Indian River County. The county has put a moratorium on spreading Class B biosolids on pastures, a practice that’s different than Sunbreak Farms’ plan to compost the sewage sludge first.