ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A proposal to allow Nestlé Waters to extract millions of gallons of water from Florida’s Ginnie Springs has started gaining attention from conservationists who worry about the plan’s potential impact on the spring and the nearby Santa Fe River.
Under a 20-year-old permit obtained by Seven Springs Water Company, about 1.2 million gallons of water per day can be extracted from the location. Nestlé Waters currently pays Seven Springs for the water extracted at Ginnie Springs and would continue to do so if the permit is extended for another five years.
“Springwater is a rapidly renewable resource when managed correctly. Nestlé Waters North America is committed to the highest level of sustainable spring water management at all of the springs we manage,” Nestlé Waters North America said in a written statement posted on its website. “We have worked to be a good neighbor in Florida for decades. Our commitment goes beyond just caring about the water. We value our relationships with Florida residents and community leaders, and always strive to create shared value within the communities where we operate.”
Nestlé maintains that 1.2 million gallons of water per day is a proverbial drop-in-the-bucket compared with the normal flow of water in the area. The company says USGS monitoring systems in the area show 1.2 million gallons per day to represent just .05% of the total daily volume there.
But not everyone is convinced.
“The concern that we have is taking nearly four hundred million gallons a year out of this particular protected waterway and spring, Ginnie Springs and the other springs that are located in and around this region of the Santa Fe River, we’re concerned that we’re going to see degradation to our springs and also to our waterway,” said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, a board member with Our Santa Fe River, Inc., a group opposing the expansion of water extraction at the site.
“We’re digging our heels into the soil, into the sand, into our waterways and saying, ‘no way’. This is a problem for the Santa Fe, it’s located so close to the river itself that we may not be able to recover from. Already, speaking of recovery, the Santa Fe River is in a recovery already.”
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