Permit approved to pump 980,000 daily gallons of water from Ginnie Springs
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The battle for Florida waterways continues as Seven Springs is awarded a controversial permit.
On Tuesday The Suwannee River Water Management District unanimously approved a permit which allows Seven Springs to pull nearly one million gallons of water each day from Ginnie Springs.
That water will go to the Nestle bottling plant in Gilchrist County to be used for bottled water.
During its meeting Tuesday, the District heard nearly four hours of public comment before approving the measure in a 7-0 vote.
One of those voices was Michielle Colson.
“I’m upset, angry, but definitely fired up... This is the water that sustains life on this planet, and that sustains life for tens of millions of people,” Colson said. “Florida is in dire need of water conservation, water laws, and the protection of our water. If we don’t take this seriously there will be no more Florida.”
Colson was one of the hundreds of people speaking out in opposition of the permit.
Silver Springs existing permit allows the company to pull 250,000 gallons daily from Ginnie Springs. That permit is expiring, and now they’re looking to expand.
The permit approved Tuesday allows them to start pulling .98 million gallons per day.
Local environmental advocates say that expansion is too great for a spring that’s already suffering.
Jim Tatum with Our Santa Fe River says water levels have already reduced by 30 percent in recent years.
“The Santa Fe River and the springs there are dying, they’re in the process of dying,” Tatum said. “If you go back over the years and the time they’ve been measuring it, the decline is constant.”
Following the vote, District member Richard Schwab stated they are continuing to work hard to do what’s right for both the environment and the public.
“Judges have ruled on it, personally in my opinion we’ve spent enough money on it,” Schwab said. “I do not downplay the emotional argument of how beautiful the springs are.”
The permitting application process began two years ago. An administrative law judge had previously recommended the permit be approved, stating the district has “reasonable assurances” the water would be used for a beneficial purpose of public interest.
An attorney representing Seven Springs added that prior to that recommendation, the district already reviewed and determined there would be no negative environmental impacts from the permit.
The permit approved Tuesday will extend for five years.
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