by Jim Tatum
The evening of Nov. 1, Our Santa Fe River, Inc., Suwannee St. Johns Group Sierra Club and Climate Action Gator, organized and deployed a passionate protest against Nestlé water bottling company.
The reason for this protest was because Seven Springs Water Company wants to renew a pumping permit near Ginnie Springs to sell water to Nestle to bottle and ship out of the area.
The permit allows 1,152,000 gallons per day from two wells very near Ginnie Spring and the Santa Fe River. This river is already flowing about 30 percent less than in previous years because of over-pumping, and the State of Florida is spending millions on restoration. Allowing additional withdrawals is irrational and absurd and will surely make a negative impact and slow the restoration process.
The permit has not yet been issued. You can help by going the Suwannee River Water Management District link on the website of oursantaferiver.org and entering comments. This board will make a decision on the permit in the coming months so you still have time to comment. They will read what you write and consider it.
Passion ran high at the rally as upwards of 200 people came out to tell Nestle to leave our water alone. Emphasis was on youth as three of our great speakers were of high school and college age. They included:
Marihelen Wheeler, Alachua Board of County Commissioner. A longtime clean water advocate from this region of Florida.
Isaac Augspurg, a 14-year-old student plaintiff in the Climate Action lawsuit against the State of Florida. Isaac’s Grandfather is a Founder of Our Santa Fe River.
Mike Roth, President of Our Santa Fe River, an organization that organized to stop four water bottling permits in 2006 and successfully stopped all of them with this community involvement.
Emma Turner, a leader of the Young Leaders for Wild Florida, who have been taking up the charge to speak out against land and water use harm in our area.
Anton Kernohan, a youth climate and environmental justice activist who is the lead organizer for the various Youth Climate Strikes here in Gainesville, Vice President of Climate Action Gator at UF, and Outreach Director of North FL for Youth Climate Strike.
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, a Founding Board Member of Our Santa Fe River, Vice Chair of Suwannee St. John’ Sierra Club, riparian property owner and who has dedicated a great deal of her personal time in giving our culturally valued spring-fed Santa Fe River the protection it needs to survive.