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Legal Challenge Filed Against Approval To Pump Water From Ginnie Springs To Benefit Nestle

Protesters with signs in Front of building
April Rubun
Fresh Take Florida
A small group of protesters gathers outside the Suwannee River Water Management District building on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Live Oak, Fla.

Pumping of around 1 million gallons of water a day continues while the deliberations are ongoing.

The Florida Spring Council and Santa Fe River have filed a legal challenge against the approval of the Seven Springs Consumptive Use Permit that allows the extraction of around 1 million gallons of water per day near Ginnie Springs for Nestle’s bottling operations.

The Suwannee River Water Management District communications manager, Lindsey Covington, said the board has until March 31 to finish deliberations regarding the legal challenge.

“With receiving a petition, we have to answer two questions, which is, if it is timely and then the other question is, if it substantially complies with rules, and if it does do both of these, then we refer the petition to DOAH,” she said.

Florida Springs Council director Ryan Smart fears they may deny it entirely if the board chooses not to send the challenge to the Division of Administrative Hearings, or hold an internal hearing.

“Another thing they can do is just deny the petition outright and say, you know, we don’t see anything here that needs to be litigated, in which case we could appeal their decision to do that to the District Court of Appeals,” Smart said. “So, there’s three different options and the timeline for the case really depends on what the district’s next move is.”

As deliberations continue, the pumping continues.

“See, they’ve been extracting water the whole time. Because Seven Springs already has a water use permit, and as long as the litigation is ongoing they can continue to pump,” Smart said.

A decision from the Suwannee River Water Management District board is expected by the end of the month.

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