Update 2018-12-30: The new organization WATERKEEPERS Florida, as one of its first acts, on December 19, 2018, signed the Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida, thus committing all thirteen of its member organizations.
Update 2018-11-13: Miami Waterkeeper has signed, bringing it to a round dozen Florida Waterkeepers.
Update 2018-08-18: Calusa Waterkeeper has also signed, bringing it to 11 of the 14 Waterkeepers in Florida. (See also PDF.)
Update 2018-08-01: Five additional signers: Suncoast Waterkeeper, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Indian Riverkeeper, St. Marys Riverkeeper, and Collier County Waterkeeper. Seven of us delivered this resolution in person to FDEP Secretary Noah Valenstein.
Delivered via email as PDF to the Union BOCC before their phosphate mine workshop of Monday, December 18, 2017.
Against Phosphate Mines in Florida
WHEREAS, Waterkeeper Alliance Members are obligated and dedicated to protect the water resources, citizens’ interests, and related benefits in their jurisdictions; and
WHEREAS, phosphate mines have been shown to threaten and cause actual harm to these resources, interest, and related benefits; and
WHEREAS, there are several phosphate mine projects in various stages of permitting in local, state, and federal agencies including county and city governments, Water Management Districts (WMDs), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); and
WHEREAS, there seems to be no public list of current phosphate mines and related facitlities, which include at least
- The PCS phosphate mine in Hamilton Countyon the Suwannee River.
- Owl Creek Phosphate Mine in Lafayette County, five miles northwest of Mayo, in the Suwannee River Basin.
- According to FDEP, Mining and Mitigation, Phosphate Mines: “Today phosphate mining occurs primarily in the central Florida area (Polk, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Hardee counties). The central Florida phosphate-mining region covers approximately 1.3 million acres of land known as the “Bone Valley.””
- “There are 27 phosphate mines covering more than 491,900 acres. The smallest phosphate mine is approximately 5,000 acres with the largest approximately 100,000 acres. Of the commodities mined in Florida, phosphate mining is the most land intensive, disturbing between 5,000 to 6,000 acres annually; approximately 25 to 30% of these lands are isolated wetlands or wetlands connected to waters of the state.” —FDEP, Phosphate Mines
- Many people still have not even heard of this: “Mosaic Company’s New Wales fertilizer factory about 20 miles east of Tampa has developed a sinkhole which dumped more than 215 million gallons of highly acidic wastewater along with slightly radioactive phosphogypsum waste material into the Floridan Aquifer.”—Sierra Club, Phosphate Mining
as well as perhaps others; and
WHEREAS, there seems to be no public list of current or proposed phosphate mines, which include at least
- HPS II in Union and Bradford Counties on the New River (a tributary of the Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers)
- Mosaic expansion in Bone Valley (parts of Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Polk Counties) on the Peace River
- Mosaic new phosphate mine in DeSoto County on the Peace River
as well as perhaps others; and
WHEREAS, opposition to each phosphate mine project seems to be mostly local, with each opposition group or coalition attempting to reinvent everything; and
WHEREAS, the huge amount of water used by phosphate mines and its ill effects on rivers, springs, and wells is not generally known to the public; and
WHEREAS, severe reduction of spring flow, river flow, and lake levels are evidence that current pumping has overstressed the Floridan Aquifer; and
WHEREAS, the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan determined that current water withdrawals cannot meet demand without causing unacceptable impacts to natural water systems; and
WHEREAS, unsustainable alternative water supply projects are being targeted that are expensive publicly-funded projects and have a high risk of unintended consequences; and
WHEREAS, the extent, locations, and effects of phosphate mining worldwide are relevant to phosphate mines in Florida; see USGS World phosphate mines, deposits, and occurrences; and
WHEREAS, it is not clear there is any need for additional phosphate; and
WHEREAS, preventing fertilizer runoff would conserve phosphate while helping meet Florida’s Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs).
- They offer information, publicity, and other assistance to groups opposing phosphate mines, and;
- They offer to assist in engaging local, state, and federal permitting bodies in educating them about the hazards of phosphate mines and in persuading them not to permit any, and;
- They will publicize the hazards of phosphate mines so the public and potential financial backers of mines will be aware and will oppose them.
PASSED AND ADOPTED BY THE UNDERSIGNED FLORIDA WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE MEMBERS AND AFFILIATES, this eighteenth day of December 2017.
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, WWALS Watershed Coalition
Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper
Laurie Murphy, Emerald Coastkeeper
Jen Lomberk, Matanzas Riverkeeper
Georgia Ackerman, Apalachicola Riverkeeper
Signed July 30-31, 2018:
Andy Mele, Suncoast Waterkeeper
Andrew Hayslip, Executive Director and Waterkeeper, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper
Marty Baum, Riverkeeper, Executive Director, Indian Riverkeeper
Rick Frey, Riverkeeper, St. Marys Riverkeeper
Harrison Langley, Collier County Waterkeeper
Signed August 17, 2018:
John Cassani, Calusa Waterkeeper
Signed October 19, 2018:
Rachel Silverstein, Miami Waterkeeper
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!