Help SRWMD reject Nestle permit 2021-02-23

You can help the Suwannee River Water Management District Board uphold the public interest and reject Nestlé’s water withdrawal permit application.

[Agenda, Board, No Permit]
Agenda, Board, No Permit

Even SRWMD’s legal counsel only recommends approving the Seven Springs permit “under protest.” The DOAH judge’s Order is actually only a RECOMMENDATION, and the District filed eighteen pages of exceptions to that Order. The judge disallowed most of those exceptions, but SRWMD is still holding open the possibility of appeal with that “under protest”.

The Judge’s Order dances around the basic question: is putting water in plastic bottles after taking it from the Floridan Aquifer next to a depleted river and springs, all for profit of a Swiss company, in the public interest? Florida law and the judge attempt to narrow what can be considered down what can be considered for the public interest to what is in Florida rules or a handbook, even though none of those adequately address the real issues. The plain fact is that a contract to sell water does not determine any public interst in cleaning up plastic bottles from our springs and rivers, nor does it determine any public interest in lower springs and rivers, with bad effects on wildlife, public use of those waters, and eventually on drinking water.

The SRWMD board can deny this permit because it is not in the public interest. You can help them do so.

It almost looks like the SRWMD counsel is asking people to come protest, since he repeatedly mentions that Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) filed legal motions and both Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Michael Roth spoke in the legal hearing. Disclosure: WWALS has provided some financial support for OSFR’s legal actions in this matter.

If you’re going to attend this Special Meeting in person, get there early to get a spot. To attend online, be sure to sign up for both the webinar and cal in for audio. If you want to comment, you must also sign up for that separately. Don’t wait for the second day: if that happens at all, there will be no public comment.

So come early on the first day, in person or online, Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

The entire SRWMD Special Meeting Board packet is on the WWALS website: https://www.wwals.net/pictures/2021-02-23–srwmd-nestle-special-meeting-packet/

Here is the agenda, with how to attend online:

AGENDA
SUWANNEE RIVER WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT
GOVERNING BOARD MEETING AND PUBLIC HEARING

February 23, 2021 Information:
Webinar Registration Link for Visuals: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6247826803644123151

Call-In Number for Audio: Toll Free 1-888-585-9008 – Conference Room Number: 704-019-452 #
Public Comment Form Link: www.MySuwanneeRiver.com/Comments

February 24, 2021 Information (If Needed)
Webinar Registration Link for Visuals:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4576738454215302671

Call-In Number for Audio: Toll Free 1-888-585-9008 – Conference Room Number: 704-019-452 #
Public Comment Form Link: www.MySuwanneeRiver.com/Comments

Participation in this meeting by the “GoTo Webinar” and “Call-In Number” may be limited at times due to high participation volumes. If you are temporarily unable to participate using one of the above methods, please try the other method or try again later.

Open to Public
Limited Seating Capacity and Following CDC Guidelines Regarding Social Distancing

February 23, 2021
9:00 a.m.

District Headquarters
Live Oak, Florida

  1. Call to Order
  2. Roll Call
  3. Announcement of any Amendments to the Agenda by the Chair Amendments Recommended by Staff: None
  4. Public Comment (Public comment will be allowed on the agenda item only. Breaks may be called by the Chair from time to time including a lunch break. If needed, public comments will be received until 3:00 p.m.
  5. Consideration of the Recommended Order Issued in Seven Springs Water Company v. Suwannee River Water Management District; SRWMD Renewal WUP App. No. 2-041-218202-3; DOAH Case Nos. 20-1329, 20-3581 (Consolidated) and Issuance of a Final Order
  6. Adjournment (If the Governing Board determines that the circumstances so warrant, the Governing Board may continue this meeting to February 24, 2021. Should this meeting be so continued, the Governing Board does not anticipate reopening public comment.)

Any member of the public, who wishes to address the Board during Public Comment must sign up (including the completion of the required speaker forms) with the Executive Director or designee before the time designated for Public Comment. During Public Comment, the Chair shall recognize those persons signed up to speak. Unless, leave is given by the Chair, (1) all speakers will be limited to three minutes per topic, (2) any identifiable group of three persons or more shall be required tochoose a representative, who shall be limited to five minutes per topic. Speakers may not “give” their time to others.

Here’s the bottom line of the DOAH judge’s order:

RECOMMENDATION

Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is RECOMMENDED that the Suwannee River Water Management District render a Final Order granting permit No. 2-041-218202-3 to the Seven Springs Water Company.

The judge’s entire Order and the District’s Exceptions are on the WWALS website in the board packet for the Special Meeting.
https://wwals.net/pictures/2021-02-23–srwmd-nestle-special-meeting-packet

The topic of Nestlé shipping water from Ginnie Springs to Madison for bottling came up so much the judge had to say they can’t do that under the present permit:

54. The District’s third basis for denial asserts that Seven Springs “has provided no reasonable assurance that the High Springs facility is the only beverage processing facility where the use of the requested allocation will occur.”

55. The issue of tankering water to Madison is not part of the application, was subject to no RAI, and was not part of the original denial. It was raised, apparently, as part of settlement negotiations that were not accepted by the District.

80. As discussed above, the undersigned does not accept that Seven Springs can simply amend its application at the hearing to add activities and uses for the water that were not proposed.

81. If Seven Springs wants to use the water from its High Springs wells at a facility other than the adjacent Nestle bottling plant, then it may propose that use in a request for a permit modification. However, because that use is not a part of either the application or the notice of agency action properly before this tribunal, it is not authorized by anything contained in this Recommended Order.

Help SRWMD deny this Ginnie Springs Nestlé permit. Then let’s revisit Nestlé’s Madison Blue Spring permit.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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