August 5, 2008
More Threats to Aquifer Rising From Water Bottlers
By RONALD L. LITTLEPAGE
Spinning around the news dial ... click.
Staffers at the St. Johns River Water Management District have recommended approving a permit for Niagara Bottling, a California company that wants to build the plant in Lake County, and the district's board of governors was going to vote on the issue at its Aug. 12 meeting.
The Lake County Commission put a halt to that last week by filing a challenge to the permit with an administrative law judge.
That challenge will delay any action on the permit for at least six months.
Perhaps by then the water management district will realize the absurdity of taking precious water from the aquifer, while at the same time pushing to take up to 262 million gallons of water a day out of the St. Johns because the aquifer can't meet Central Florida's potable water needs.
Unfortunately, the courts may not be much help in stopping bottling plants from slurping up our water and shipping it elsewhere.
The Ocala Star-Banner reported last week that an appellate court panel ruled against Marion County's challenge to a plan to take 182 million gallons of water a year out of the aquifer there for bottled water.
The county commission had challenged the permit with an administrative law judge. Losing there, the commission appealed to the courts. That at least tied up the permit for four years.
The ruling Friday was a 2-1 squeaker. An issue was whether taking water from the aquifer for such a use was in the public's interest. The answer should be no. Hopefully, the state Supreme Court will get a chance to weigh in.
By the way, several of my astute readers have come up with an alternative to plans by the Georgia-Pacific paper mill in Palatka to dump 23 million gallons of polluted effluent a day into the middle of the river.
Uncontrolled growth in Central Florida has so depleted the Floridan aquifer that water managers there are greedily eying the 262 million gallons a day from the river.
To help out, ship the paper mill's dirty effluent to Orlando instead of sullying the St. Johns.
Readers who want to protest how the river is being treated ask whom they should contact.
A good place to start is Mayor John Peyton, who has pledged to fight the water withdrawal and any polluting of the river. His e- mail address is [email protected]
Gov. Charlie Crist should also be encouraged to get into the fight. His e-mail address is [email protected]
And don't forget the members of the water management district's governing board. You can find their e-mail addresses at http:// sjr.fl.us/governingboard/boardmembers.html.
The message should be simple: Protect the St. Johns River. It's too great a resource to mess up.
[email protected], (904) 359-4284
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