Audubon Florida News

Press Release: Water District Denies Harmful Bay County Well Field

posted on September 28, 2012 in FL Special Places

For Immediate Release: September 28, 2012

Contact: Eric Draper, Executive Director, edraper@audubon.org, 850-251-1301 

Water District Denies Harmful Bay County Well Field

Tallahassee, FL – On Thursday the Northwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board adopted as a Final District Order, the Recommended Order of an Administrative Law Judge to deny a water use permit for a harmful and unnecessary new Bay County well field.

The decision ends the two year fight over a proposed well field that threatened the extraordinary karst lake and sandhills watershed in Bay and Washington Counties. The Sandhill Lakes region was the first area designated by Audubon as a “Florida Special Place.”

“This watershed is home to an extraordinary assemblage of rare and endemic species found only in area karst lake seepage edges, rare inland lake buffering longleaf pine and rosemary scrub, sphagnum and pitcher plant bogs, steephead ravines, springs, many undeveloped sandhill lakes,” said Eric Draper, Audubon Florida’s Executive Director.

Bay County Audubon Society and Audubon Florida took an early stand against the well field at its inception and organized public opposition through meetings with concerned citizens and at the hearing held in Washington County, Florida. Lake front property owners and nearby residents also worked to defeat the permit forming a grass roots “Save Sandhill Lakes” coalition to educate area residents of the proposed well field’s harmful  effects on property values, private wells and the many ponds and lakes expected to be lowered if the well field were permitted.  The proposed permit was challenged by the Knight Trust and Washington County.

Audubon acknowledged the leadership changes at the Northwest Florida Water Management District brought about by the Scott administration. “Executive Director Jonathan Steverson is providing excellent leadership and restoring the public’s faith in his agency,” Draper said.

“While it is commendable that the Knight Trust fought this permit on behalf of the environment and people of Washington County, in the future we look to our state agencies to protect our water resources,” Draper added.

Audubon will continue to suggest that the water management district establish Minimum Flows and Levels in the very sensitive aquifer recharge and springsheds of NW Florida.

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