A Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida –Florida Waterkeepers 2017-12-18

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.

Signers, Resolution

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.

A Resolution
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, Resolution 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

  1. The PCS phosphate mine in Hamilton Countyon the Suwannee River.
  2. Owl Creek Phosphate Mine in Lafayette County, five miles northwest of Mayo, in the Suwannee River Basin.
  3. 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.””
  4. “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
  5. 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

  1. HPS II in Union and Bradford Counties on the New River (a tributary of the Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers)
  2. Mosaic expansion in Bone Valley (parts of Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Polk Counties) on the Peace River
  3. 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).

Signed, Resolution NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the undersigned Florida Waterkeeper Alliance Members are opposed to any new phosphate mines:

  1. They offer information, publicity, and other assistance to groups opposing phosphate mines, and;
  2. 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;
  3. They will publicize the hazards of phosphate mines so the public and potential financial backers of mines will be aware and will oppose them.


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

Signed December 19, 2018:


 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

3 thoughts on “A Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida –Florida Waterkeepers 2017-12-18

  1. Terre Tulsiak

    I can attest personally that while these mining operations go on under the public’s nose, we remain in ignorance primarily because Mosaic, like other conglomerates, supports ‘environmental’ causes, splashing their name on everything, while the stacks of gypsum waste piles up. Along Tampa Bay, the tides kept the damage somewhat at bay, along rivers with be disastrous in the imbalance that occurs. Here in Tampa Bay, when Mosaic applied for re-permitting to dump process water into a branch of the Hillsborough River there was one comment against it. When a vice president called me personally he mentioned that since he ‘lived near me’ (which he did) he would naturally be as concerned as I was, especially as he ‘had grandchildren too’. (Odd that he was so well acquainted with my personal information, since I had only recently BECOME a grandparent.)
    And even the Sierra Club has drunk the koolaid, as their local club tells people that Mosaic is necessary to feed the world.(!) Of course they have also promoted conversion to natural gas buses. http://www.usf.edu/pcgs/documents/tbccc-november-2013-newsletter.pdf

    1. jsq Post author

      Actually, Sierra Club is in the forefront of the opposition to the HPS II mine and to a new Mosaic mine. And long ago SC realized fracked methane is not a bridge fuel, publishing a joint Alabama, Georgia, and Florida statement against the Sabal Trail pipeline in 2014. Sierra Club won a court case against Sabal Trail and FERC, which is still in process. -jsq

  2. Diana Touchstone

    The mining in or around Union County would destroy our farm. This is a third generation farm and I don’t see anything good if they were to mine the property all around us.
    Diana Touchstone

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