An administrative law judge Friday backed a decision to issue a water-use permit to a major Marion County landowner, despite arguments by environmental groups about possible harm to Silver Springs and the Silver River.
Judge E. Gary Early, in a 67-page decision, recommended that the St. Johns River Water Management District move forward with issuing a consumptive-use permit to Sleepy Creek Lands, LLC. The district last year said it planned to issue a permit that would allow the landowner to withdraw an additional 1.22 million gallons of water a day from the Upper Floridan Aquifer to irrigate pastures and crops, provide water for cattle and for uses related to a cattle-processing facility, according to Early’s decision.
But the district was challenged by St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Florida Defenders of the Environment, the Silver Springs Alliance and Marion County resident Alice Gardner, who were concerned, at least in part, about water flows for Silver Springs and the Silver River.
Early, however, concluded that the permit should be issued. “A preponderance of the evidence demonstrated that the proposed use of water will have no material or significant adverse impact to the source of the water, to environmental resources, or to the flows and levels of Silver Springs or the Silver River,” Early wrote. “A preponderance of the evidence demonstrated that the proposed use of water will be for a productive, beneficial economic activity.”
from News Service of Florida