SRWMD listens about Sabal Trail easements, chooses unfortunately, yet offers assistance 2016-07-12

Attached are my comments to the SRWMD Governing Board today (July 12th 2016) in regards to the Sabal Trail crossing site over the Falmouth Cathedral Cave System.

I was the first to speak at the public comment period followed by Jim Tatum then Merrillee. Jim and Merrillee echoed my concerns. The three of us set the tone for the meeting! The Board was interested and engaged asking questions to better understand what impacts Sabal Trail poses for the cave system and the District. About Time!

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Sierra Club Florida speaking to SRWMD 2016-07-12
Photo credit: Our Santa Fe River

Executive Director, Noah Valenstein offered to personally call the ACE to request that they answer our letters asking for further evaluation. He also will make sure the the Corps has all the information the District has with regards to the pipeline route.

Unfortunately, after a lengthy discussion and comments from Merrillee, myself and Sabal’s Lawyer the Board voted to settle with Sabal on the easement.

Governing Board Member Virginia Johns made a point to come up to me and thank me for attending and for my comments and input. She was very interested in the Sabal Trail project and asked a lot of good questions during the meeting. I will follow up with her to make sure all her questions are answered.


See also:

Comments of Christopher J. Mericle to SRWMD Re: Sabal Trail 2016-07-12

Hello, my name is Chris Mericle. I am a resident of Hamilton County and a board member of WWALS Watershed Coalition. I saw that there is a presentation on the Falmouth cathedral cave system on the agenda and thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you geology reports and other information about the Falmouth Cathedral cave system.

As many of you may be aware the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline is U.S. 90 and the CSX railroad at the same location.

I have here two geology reports, both by Florida certified Geologists with extensive experience in Florida. Both of these reports show that the Sabal Trail pipeline is a real threat to the Falmouth Cathedral Cave system. The reports are written by Southeast Environmental Geology- Dennis Price and Schreuder inc.- Peter Schreuder. I encourage you to take the time to read these reports.

When asked what specific tests Sabal Trail performed to determine the exact location and depth of the cave system, Sabal Trail replied, ” a file was obtained from the FDEP’s GIS library containing location and elevation data for the cave system.” So, no tests were in fact performed! Sabal went on to say “… it is not completely clear what the elevation data represents…” Sabal trail did not even know how to interpret data from the 1file they evaluated.

Additionally, Sabal trail has omitted information about Falmouth Spring and Lime Run Spring from the record. Both of these are 1st magnitude springs and Sabal fails to include them on their springs table. The springs table shows that the closest 1st magnitude spring to the proposed pipeline is Madison Blue at 1.7 miles. When in fact both Falmouth and Lime run springs are closer, lime run is only .46 miles from the proposed pipeline.

Also, there is no mention that the cave system is the known conduit for these two springs as well as 3 other springs in the area. Your own dye test two years ago confirmed this. I am fairly certain that no one in this room would stand for a 36″ gas pipeline to be installed a few feet away from a 1st mag. Spring. But, that is essentially what Sabal trail is proposing to do by crossing so close to the cave system. Any impacts on the cave system/ spring conduit will have a direct impact on the springs it feeds.

Sabal trail also omits sinkhole information in their karst features within .25 miles of the center of the pipeline table. For example, there is a huge active sinkhole very near the proposed pipeline route and the Falmouth cave system that is no where to be found in the table. This sinkhole can be seen from Hwy 90 next to Pilgrims Pride.

In light of these two reports that warn us of the negative impacts that this pipeline will have on the cave system and the springs and the totally inadequate survey that Sabal performed, I would like to ask that this board join WWALS Watershed coalition, Sierra Club, Environment Florida, Gulf Restoration Network, the Original Seminollee Mickasucee Tribe, Hamilton co. BOCC, Suwannee co BOCC, Marion Co BOCC and US Congressman Sanford Bishop GA and many other organizations and citizens in asking the USACE to further evaluate the Falmouth Cathedral Cave system proposed crossing site and initiate a SEIS.

Thank you for your consideration


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