No more promiscious issuance of water withdrawal permits to Nestle –Suwannee Riverkeeper in The Independent, U.K. 2019-08-26

“Suwannee Riverkeeper is opposed to continued promiscuous issuance of permits to withdraw water from the Floridan Aquifer, which is already overtaxed and sinking. The Suwannee River Water Management District not only should reject Nestle’s application to withdraw water from the Santa Fe River at Ginnie Springs; it should also revisit Nestle’s permit to withdraw water from the Withlacoochee River at Madison Blue Spring.”

That’s what I told a reporter yesterday, and SRWMD does have statutory authority to revoke permits in addition to refusing new ones. You can tell SRWMD these things.

Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS. Note “BLUE SPRING, MADISON, COUNTY FL” and “NESTLE WATERS NORTH AMERICA INC., STAMFORD, CT 06902”. Why should a Swiss company with North American headquarters in Connecticut get to take our water for free and pollute our waterways with its plastic bottles?

Lily Puckett, The Independent, 26 August 2019, Nestle attempts to to pump 1.1m gallons of water per day from fragile US spring: The water system has been officially “in recovery” for years,

Nestlé is seeking permission to take over 1.1m gallons of water a day out of an ecologically fragile body of water in Florida, prompting outrage from residents and environmentalists.

Nestlé Waters, which produces two labels of bottled bottled water out of Florida, bought the Ginnie Springs water bottling plant in January. The plant has been operating since 1998.

The company has now requested a permit allowing it to pump a maximum of 1.152 million gallons of water a day from those springs for bottling.

Located in Gilgrist County, the springs belong to the Santa Fe River, which has been deemed “in recovery” by the Suwanee Suwanee River Water Management District after years of overpumping. Opponents of the plan say the river system cannot withstand the proposed pumping. Nestlé disputes this, saying that the spring water is a “rapidly renewable resource.”

Nestlé has long sucked up water next to Madison Blue Spring on the Withlacoochee River, paying nothing per gallon, selling the water back to us in plastic bottles that we later have to clean up out of the springs and rivers.

Now Nestlé has bought the bottler at Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, Seven Springs Water Co., which is applying for a new permit to pay nothing to withdraw even more water for nothing; see Cindy Swirko, Gainesville Sun, 1 August 2019, Permit sought for bottled water from Ginnie Springs. Gilchrist County already approved the permit, but the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) has not yet.

The Independent story has a good note:

Lindsey Garland, the Public Communications Coordinator of Suwannee River Water Management District, told The Independent that the application Seven Springs filed, filed in March, was incomplete, meaning that the permit request cannot move forward for now….

The plant has operated on a 20-year permit since 1999. The district may now issue only a five-year permit, to allow for more constant review on the impact of the water withdrawal. There is no set date by which the application must be corrected for the process to continue.

Ms Garland also said that the considerable public outrage voiced by local residents and environmental groups over the proposed plan “will definitely be taken into consideration” by management. As of August 26, 861 objections have been filed online by citizens opposing the plan.

But better safe than sorry. Comment now, so SRWMD can see the objections continue to pile oup.

How to Comment

Thanks to Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) for these comment directions.

To see the permit documents, and to make public comments, use this link to Permit number: 2-041-218202-3

Click on these words at the center of that page: “To comment or receive notifications”.

Statutory Authority

See for example F.S. 373.243(3):

For violation of any provision of this chapter, the governing board or the department may revoke the permit, in whole or in part, for a period not to exceed 1 year.

And presumably SRWMD could revoke the permit again for another year, etc.

Among provisions of the same chapter, see 373.223 Conditions for a permit.—

(1) To obtain a permit pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, the applicant must establish that the proposed use of water:

(a) Is a reasonable-beneficial use as defined in s. 373.019;

(b) Will not interfere with any presently existing legal use of water; and

(c) Is consistent with the public interest.

(2) The governing board or the department may authorize the holder of a use permit to transport and use ground or surface water beyond overlying land, across county boundaries, or outside the watershed from which it is taken if the governing board or department determines that such transport and use is consistent with the public interest, and no local government shall adopt or enforce any law, ordinance, rule, regulation, or order to the contrary.

And see 373.223(4)

The governing board or the department, by regulation, may reserve from use by permit applicants, water in such locations and quantities, and for such seasons of the year, as in its judgment may be required for the protection of fish and wildlife or the public health and safety. Such reservations shall be subject to periodic review and revision in the light of changed conditions. However, all presently existing legal uses of water shall be protected so long as such use is not contrary to the public interest.

So if SRWMD declares Nestlé’s sucking up of spring water is “contrary to the public interest” SRWMD can revoke Nestlé’s permit.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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