In spite of many requests to the contrary, the water managers today in Brooksville, March 28, 2017, signed off on the new MFLs for the Rainbow River. The district staff recommended the move and the governing board complied.
No surprise, this plays out the same way every time. There is a meeting and the water scientists spend an hour or so listing to all the reasons why withdrawing some more water won’t cause significant damage. Other districts, even other states use the same formulae. The water model is the best available, guaranteed. The aquifer level is fine, about the same as it was decades ago. We have had less rainfall is all, and if the river shows signs of significant damage they will take action. And they will check it yearly and give it a good look in 10 years.
Then dozens of citizens go to the podium and give many reasons why the Rainbow River should not be lowered more. The reasons are many and they are sound, and they won’t be repeated here, but they are put forth with passion by learned, intelligent people, most of whom know the river many times better than its judges, about to condemn it one step closer to oblivion.
After all the support, a few of the board members make a stab at asking a few intelligent questions, which gives the semblance of sincere interest and concern, but the answers they get hurled back at them from the scientists are the same numbers, assurances, rationalizations and excuses as they heard over and over a few minutes before.
During this session of comments, one or several board members explain that they are very concerned about water, as that is their business, but they have full confidence in their staff, who are tops in their field, and who love the river as much or more than the environmentalists and would never recommend anything that would harm the river. And after all, there were 17 independent peer groups who said it was fine.
Merrillee Malwitz-jipson Mike Roth Kathryn Taubert Karen Chadwick
So we get a unanimous vote, and the policy makers in Tallahassee are happy and the developers and water users are happy because they can drill their wells and get free water.
And the river and the springs suffer.
There is one question that comes to mind- how many concerned citizens would have to go to the podium, face to face with the board members requesting protection for the river, before the board would hear them? 5oo? 2,000? What if 5,000 showed up asking to speak? Lock-down and police?
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-