Nestlé Wants 1.1M Gallons of Water Per Day From Florida But Conservationists Are Fighting Back

Fearing permanent harm to Ginnie Springs in Florida, environmentalists are opposing Nestlé Waters' proposal to take 1.1 million gallons per day from the public source of water.

The food giant faced backlash from local residents for their plan. If Nestlé's proposal is approved, water levels in the Springs from the Santa Fe River will deplete immensely, said Santa Fe River Incorporation, an organization that advocates for environmental issues in the area.

"If this permit gets re-issued, the river will see only more declining flows when the entire allocation is reached," Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Santa Fe River board member, told Newsweek on Tuesday.

The Florida Water Resources Act in 1972 determined spring water, rivers and lakes were the property of Florida. But the act did not set a price on the water, Gainesville Sun reported Saturday. Locals fear Nestlé will be able to take the state's water and not pay Florida for it.

Sante Fe Board's objection is within the interpretation of the laws that protect business entities who can gain a tremendous amount of wealth from a public water supply.

But it's not just about money. Florida residents are worried about what will happen to the ecosystem.

"Every bit of healthy freshwater flowing out from the Floridan aquifer is necessary to keep our ecosystems intact, for an abundance of fish, reptile, microorganisms, and waterfowl populations. This important waterway is also vital for the local and state economy as a result of freshwater springs contributing to a thriving recreational tourism destination," Malwitz-Jipson said.

Florida's state water agency, Suwannee River Water Management District, is responsible for the issuing the water use permit to Seven Springs, who will hand over the permission to Nestle.

The current permit holder, Seven Springs, has never drawn more than 260,000 gallons per day, but Nestlé has invested heavily in a new bottling plant so it can draw more water. Nestlé insists that that drawing 1.1 million gallons of water per day is only .05 percent of the total daily volume there, according to a WTSP News report on Monday.

Meanwhile, Nestlé said they will ensure sustainability. "Spring water is a rapidly renewable resource when managed correctly. Nestlé Waters North America is committed to the highest level of sustainable spring water management at all of the springs we manage," the company said in a statement on August 9.

The board members are demanding the water agency to deny the permit as the verdict is set to be announced in November.

So far, opponents to the bottled water scheme have set up an online petition and forum calling for the water management board to deny the permit through a petition on, that has garnered over 18,000 signatures. "Nestlé is an irresponsible company that has no concern for the environment," a petitioner commented. Another wrote, "Big business needs to leave our springs alone."

The Nestle waters' logo at the entrance to the factory is pictured at the water production plant in Contrexeville, eastern France on May 23, 2017. SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images