On December 2, 2011, Adena Springs Ranch submitted a consumptive use permit (CUP) application for 13.267 million gallons of water per day (mgd) to irrigate pasture land for approximately 30,000 head of cattle and a slaughterhouse near Ft. McCoy in Marion County.
The entire City of Ocala uses approximately 12.85 million gallons of water per day (mgd).
On December 14, 2012, Adena Springs Ranch amended its application, reducing its request to 5.3 mgd.
On Jan. 11, 2013, the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) determined that additional technical information is needed regarding the Adena Springs Ranch consumptive use permit application. District staff sent a Request for Additional Information (RAI) letter to the applicant. Adena Springs Ranch was given May 11, 2013, to respond to the RAI or to request an extension.
On April 18th, Adena Springs Ranch responded to the request with additional information. Now, the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) staff have until May 18th to determine if the application is complete and meets all of the District's criteria.
The property is located within the springshed of Silver Springs, a National Natural Landmark, and the Silver River, an Outstanding Florida Water (OFW).
The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) is currently conducting studies to determine minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for Silver Springs. Completion of this study is necessary to determine if more water can be withdrawn from the aquifer without causing more harm to this treasured spring system.
Silver Springs Facts According to Dr. Bob Knight, Director of the Florida Springs Institute, and the Silver Springs 50-year Retrospective Study:
Flows have declined by 32% during the past decade and 50% since 1965
NO3-N has increased by 176% (2,600% over the entire period of record of more than 100 years)
Water clarity has decreased
Nighttime dissolved oxygen has declined by about 19%
Submerged aquatic plant biomass has declined by 21%
Total algal biomass has increased by 371%
Ecosystem productivity has declined by 27%
Insect productivity has declined by 72%
Fish biomass has declined by 92%
According to the Draft Restoration Plan for the Silver Springs and River (Normandeau Associates, Inc., June 16, 2011), “As recharge occurs relatively quickly in most areas of the Silver Springs basin, nutrients applied to the land surface can reach the Floridan Aquifer rapidly....Livestock waste and commercial fertilizer make up the greatest estimated N load applied to land surfaces as well as to groundwater....”
Withdrawing such a large quantity of groundwater will further reduce the spring's flow.
Nutrient-rich waste created from a large number of cattle, a meat processing plant, and excess nutrients from fertilizers used on the Adena Springs Ranch property could reach the groundwater that ultimately discharges from Silver Springs. This would only exacerbate the existing problem of elevated nutrient levels in the spring.
The Silver River is already impaired, despite its Outstanding Florida Water (OFW) designation. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wqssp/ofwfs.htm#regulatory): “Projects … that are proposed within an OFW must not lower existing ambient water quality… DEP also may not issue permits for indirect discharges that would significantly degrade a nearby waterbody designated as an OFW. In addition, activities or discharges within an OFW, or which significantly degrade an OFW, must meet a more stringent public interest test. The activity or discharge must be “clearly in the public interest.”
According to the SJRWMD 2005 Water Supply Plan 4th Addendum (http://www.sjrwmd.com/dwsp.html), Marion County is within a Priority Water Resource Caution Area (PWRCA). These are “areas where existing and reasonably anticipated sources of water and conservation efforts may not be adequate (1) to supply water for all existing legal uses and reasonably anticipated future needs and (2) to sustain the water resources and related natural systems.”