The crystal blue waters of the Ginnie Springs have long been considered a pearl in the picturesque Santa Fe River in Florida.
This is a main playground for water sports enthusiasts and the home to a variety of species of turtles. However, there’s high worry that there could be reduction in the water flowing if a plan by Nestle gets approved.
The company is looking for approval to pull out more than 1.1 million gallons of water from the natural springs and sell it as bottled water.
Environmentalists are raged and they note that the river is already vulnerable and in a recovery phase launched by the management district of the Suwannee River due to years of earlier over-extraction.
Nestle Has Been Doing this for Some Time Now
In the meantime, the company produces Pure Life and Zephyrhills with water pulled from similar springs in Florida.
This year, the company has spent millions of dollars on the purchase and upgrade of their water bottle plant and expect they will get the needed permission.
Nestle needs the Suwannee River water management district to renew an expired permit for water use held by a company called Seven Springs from which they plan on buying the water at a specific cost.
According to representatives of Nestle, spring water is a rapidly renewable source and they claim they will have a robust management plan and work together with local agents to establish permanent sustainability of their water sources.
Growing Campaign against Nestlé’s Plan
Those against the approval of this plant have opened up an online forum and a petition, as well as several letters of opposition. They believe that the environmental grounds alone are sufficient to stop this plan.
For Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, director of the non-profit Our Santa Fe River organization, the real question is how much damage is this plan going to cause on the spring and what are the changes which are going to be made in those water systems.
The organization claims that there’s already insufficient water coming out of the aquifer to recharge the amazing, iconic springs, which are vital for the natural systems, habitats and a cultural symbol.
Jipson also adds that it’s impossible to pull out millions of gallons of water and not cause negative changes.
She explains that the Santa Fe River and the spring habitats house 11 native turtle species and 4 non-native species that are heavily reliable to a strong water flow and high levels of the river.
Nestle & the Controversy about their Water Activities
Nestle isn’t stranger to controversy over their water extraction activities.
Namely, back in 2017, the control board of water resources of California issued a report of investigation which concluded that the company diverted water without a basis of right from the Strawberry Canyon in the San Bernardino national forest to use in their Arrowhead bottled water.
However, the company is disputing all findings and in a written statement, they said they wanted to address the misconceptions about their newest plan.
They claim they respect all regulatory and state standards and they’re not taking water from a publicly-owned source. They’re just buying water from a private company that holds the valid permit.
Nestle claim they’re a responsible company that for the environment and note that their business depends on the sustainability and quality of the water they’re using.