Protecting our River – An Update

On April 17, 2008 we wrote about the legal battle our firm is involved with through the St. Johns River keeper to save our community’s water supply.

You may recall that the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) recently permitted Seminole County to withdraw millions of gallons of water per day from the St. Johns River which has placed it in the top ten most endangered rivers in the United States.

In March 2008 the St. Johns Riverkeeper filed for an administrative hearing to challenge the permit application by Seminole County to withdraw 5.5 million gallons of water a day at its proposed Yankee Lake facility for irrigation purposes.

Many counties, cities, and utilities in Central Florida have tried to intervene on behalf of Seminole County. As a result, St. Johns Riverkeeper filed motions to dismiss the petitions to intervene filed by the Tohopekaliga Water Authority, Osceola County, the City of Cocoa and the City of Sanford.

On June 20th, Judge Johnston dismissed the petitions to intervene filed by the Tohopekaliga Water Authority, Osceola County, and the City of Sanford due to a lack of standing.

Additionally, we have learned that last week Putnam County Environmental Council, Inc. filed a legal challenge to stop the St. Johns River Water Management District from issuing permits to Central Florida communities and utilities for withdrawals from the St. Johns and Ocklawaha Rivers. PCEC contends that surface waters from the St. Johns River and Ocklawaha don’t qualify as “alternative water supply” sources as defined by state law. They are also asking the Florida Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission, that consists of the Governor and three Cabinet members, to review the District’s water supply plan.