Water Pumping on the Rise

Board to Consider Tighter Requirements

The Northwest Florida Water Management District agreed to consider stricter requirements on pumping because of concerns about increased pumping across the Panhandle for water bottling, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

The decision was made after agency officials said they received six permit applications in the past two years for pumping to supply water bottlers.

Guy Gowens, director of the district's Division of Resource Regulation said, "The industry is growing; I think the trend in the last few years speaks loudly to us."

Last December , Wakulla Springs Bottled Water Inc. received a permit to pump up to 1.4 million gallons per day for bottling at a site within two miles of Wakulla Springs State Park; however, the operation couldn't pump more than 230,000 gallons per day because of the size of the two wells, Gowens said.

D.P. "Dan" and Ruth High, who own Wakulla Springs Bottled Water, still must get their property rezoned to sell the water. They were issued a well-drilling permit that includes a "general" consumptive-use permit. The district now proposes requiring an "individual" consumptive-use permit for all bottled-water pumping.

A general permit is issued by agency officials without a public hearing. That permit is available for bottled-water pumping in the northern tier of the district where water is more plentiful, including Wakulla Springs, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

A permit for an individual, which is advertised in newspapers is voted on by the district's governing board and can be appealed. In addition, the application must include an analysis of the environmental impact of the pumping.

According to Gowens, the actual amount of water pumped for bottling remains small. Currently, there are nine permitted operations in the district that could pump up to 1.9 million gallons per day. That's their estimated capacity based on the sizes of wells, not their permitted capacity, Gowens said.

Gowens explained that those operations are less than 1 percent of the water consumed in the region; however, water bottling attracts more public interest because the pumping operations usually are located near springs.

Tallahassee Democrat

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