Water-issue protesters greet UF’s Stronach center dedication

Posted by Michelle, May 16, 2012


CITRA — Billionaire auto parts magnate Frank Stronach said high school bands usually welcome him at openings for his factories, so he “felt a bit bad” about being met by protesters at Tuesday’s dedication of a University of Florida conference center named after him.

Stronach donated $1.5 million to fund construction of the center at UF’s Plant Research and Education Unit in Citra. As officials dedicated the facility, dozens of protesters outside the gates picketed against Stronach’s bid for a permit to pump more than 13 million gallons of groundwater a day for a cattle operation he plans near Fort McCoy.

Stronach pledged at the dedication that he would do everything he could to prevent damage to water resources, if necessary cutting back on water usage and developing an alternative.


Next Article Relates: New stakeholder Bob Knight talks about the dangers of the new Stronach ranch.

Cunningham: Stakeholder

By: Ron Cunningham

It is no great surprise that the bureaucrats who run the Suwannee and St. Johns River water consumption districts passed over Bob Knight in assembling their newly minted “stakeholder committee.”

Knight, director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, is a respected scientist who arguably knows more about what ails our springs and aquifer than anybody.


Next Article Relates: The statistics of use and pollution of Suwannee and other rivers

Nature slip-siding away for Suwannee River, Florida

By Cynthia Barnett
Cynthia Barnett’s son, Will, launched himself from a rope into the Suwannee in May 2010. That rope has been cut. Why? Safety concerns. But where’s the concern for Florida’s future?

My favorite snapshot of childhood captures joy and triumph. The boy’s back is to the camera, to his parents, to a long moment of indecision: “I want to do it, but I don’t know if I can! Mom, do you think I can? Dad, do you think I should?”

Yes, and yes. I snapped the photo as he let go of the rope swing and stretched his arms to meet the Suwannee River.

For years, our family and a bunch of other moms, dads and children have celebrated Mother’s Day with a canoe trip we call “Rope Swings” down a kid-friendly section of the gentle Suwannee. Talk about Florida attractions. One year, I tallied them in my reporter’s notebook: Countless sandbars and beaches for swimming and for mud pies. Three thrill-ride-quality rope swings. One wolf spider guarding its nest of babies. Dozens of river turtles. One gopher tortoise. Hundreds of fish and birds, from an owl to a pair of swallow-tailed kites. One cave, a limestone labyrinth big enough for kids to walk through — a hike in the aquifer.

The cave beach is our favorite stop, for the hike, the culture (one carload of teenagers from Georgia, one grandma in a Confederate-flag bikini), and the many launch pads — bluffs, tree limbs, the granddaddy rope swing hanging from a granddaddy oak. Known as “Five Holes,” this is everyone else’s favorite, too. People come by canoe or kayak, motorboat or car, to watch aerial athletics: Teenagers flip; dads defy gravity for a second before a big splash; the smallest bodies swing into the sky with fragile grace, my son in the snapshot.

Apparently, we’ve all loved this place too much. Planning this year’s trip, I learned that Five Holes has been shut down to the public. On the landside, no hiking in the limestone, no parking for the teenagers. On the waterside, no swimming and no swinging.




Next Article Relates: State and Local Businesses actual meeting about the water extraction.

Stakeholder representatives on north Florida water supply issues named

Report by: St. John’s River District

PALATKA, Fla., May 9, 2012 — Twelve representatives were named today to the North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership’s stakeholder committee, an advisory body that will share viewpoints of stakeholder groups with the St. Johns River and Suwannee River water management districts and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help address the region’s water supply issues.

Chosen to represent the groups, organizations and entities that have an interest in the region’s water supply, committee members are:

  • Public water supply: Ray O. Avery, Clay County Utility Authority; David Clanton, City of Lake City Utilities
  • Commercial/power generation: Athena T. Mann, JEA; James Cornett, Cornett’s Spirit of the Suwannee Inc.
  • Industrial/mining: J. Michael O’Berry, Vulcan Materials Co.; Stan Posey, PCS Phosphate
  • Agriculture: Kerry Kates, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association; Thomas Harper, Harper Farms
  • Environmental: Patrick T. Welsh, University of North Florida and Save Our Lakes; Jacqui Sulek, Audubon Florida
  • Local government: Keystone Heights Mayor Mary Lou Hildreth; Dixie County Commissioner Gene Higginbotham The St. Johns District received 18 applications, and the Suwannee District received 24. http://webapub.sjrwmd.com/agws10/newsrelease/ViewNews.aspx?nrd=nr12-014
Next Article Relates: Actual Video of the protestors outside of Stranach opening 
Protest over Water Permit
Video By: WCJB TV 
  • It was supposed to be a celebration of the opening of a new center for researching agriculture.
    But it also served as a center for protest.
    A new IFAS facility received a donation by a man who wants to build an extensive cattle ranch in Marion County.
    That drew the protesters, angry over the possibility of the St. John’s River Water Management District approving a permit to pump millions gallons of water a day from the local waterways.

    “This permit is so over the top and outrageous,” one protestor told TV20.
    “It’ stealing our water, our water for the entire aqua system,” another said.
    Multimillionaire and Magna car parts mogul, Frank Stronach plans on operating the Adena Springs Ranch, a 30,000 head, grass-fed cattle farm. The project is asking the St. Johns River management district for permission to pump 13 million gallons of water a day from the Floridian Aquifer.
    To keep up with this issue: AQUIFERious
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