UPDATE: Water management district puts off its decision on Nestlé springs water permit

Florida springs and fresh water
Devil Spring In Ginnie Springs. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (Nov. 2012).

Update, 10:01 a.m. Tuesday 11 August 2020:

This morning the board of the Suwanee River Water Management District voted to put off a decision on whether to grant Nestle and its partner a permit to take a million gallons of water a day from a North Florida spring system. In a 5-1 vote, the water managers tabled their decision about the permit application from Seven Springs Water Company because they think that Nestle should be added as an official co-applicant. There were also concerns about making a decision during a virutal meeting during the coronavirus pandemic. Advocates for Florida’s springs want the water management district to deny the permit, saying the Santa Fe River and connected springs can’t handle that much water being withdrawn.

The original story is below:

On Tuesday the board of the Suwannee River Water Management District will decide whether to renew a permit for Seven Springs Water Company, which plans to sell the water to the giant multinational corporation Nestlé.

The permit could mean about a million gallons of water a day would be taken from a north Florida spring system in order to bottle it for sale on supermarket shelves.

The amount approved might be much more than is currently being pumped, but not quite as much as Nestlé and its partner had hoped. That’s what could happen Tuesday if the Board of the Suwannee River Water Management District accepts the recommendations of its staff.

Nestlé’s water application actually comes through a company called Seven Springs Water. Ocala.com points out that Seven Springs Water Company family members own the Ginnie Springs park. They are seeking a permit to take as much as 1.152 million gallons of water a day from the springs system. But water management district staff recommended that the permit allow 0.98 million gallons per day.  The average that’s been reported to be taken out during the past four years is 0.266 million gallons per day.

Water management district staff has to consider things like whether the permit would interfere with existing water use, whether it’s in the public interest and if there is a reasonable beneficial use.

The permit is opposed by the group Our Santa Fe River. WMNF interviewed Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson about it. She said to expect a legal challenge if the water district approves a permit.

You can hear the whole show here

Tuesday’s Suwannee River Water Management meeting will be online beginning at 9:00 a.m. The water management district’s phone is (386) 362-1001.

The water management district’s board only has six of nine members because Governor Ron DeSantis hasn’t filled 3 vacancies.

The permit holder does not pay the state for the water; only a permit fee.

Nestle reacted to the staff recommendations in a statement that was published by Ocala.com — “We believe that the SRWMD Staff’s decision to recommend approval of Seven Springs’ permit application is appropriate, as it is based on science demonstrating that permitted withdrawals would not have an adverse impact on Ginnie Springs or the surrounding watershed,”

In another item of interest of Florida springs: The Florida Springs Council says a developer has withdrawn the comprehensive plan amendment and zoning change needed to build the proposed Westgate Resort along the Rainbow River.


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