On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, St. Johns Riverkeeper, fellow advocates and concerned citizens from all over the state joined together at the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) headquarters in Palatka to oppose Sleepy Creek Lands (aka Adena Springs Ranch). Our attorney and the dozens of citizens who addressed the Governing Board provided compelling reasons to deny the permits for the massive cattle operation and made passionate pleas for the protection of Silver Springs.

Despite evidence that Florida’s iconic Silver Springs would be further degraded from the over-pumping of groundwater and increased nutrient pollution, the Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the permits for Sleepy Creek Lands.

While we are extremely disappointed with the outcome, the fight is certainly not over. This is just Phase 1 of a 3-phase project, and we are considering all legal options to protect Silver Springs and our rivers from this harm. There is also another permit application pending from Sleepy Creek Lands for an additional 1.12 million gallons of water a day (mgd).

AND, don’t forget that we have had a significant impact!

  • Sleepy Creek originally submitted a request for 13.267 mgd in December 2011. On December 14, 2012, Adena Springs Ranch submitted an amended permit application, reducing its request from the aquifer to 5.3 mgd. The permit that was approved on Tuesday authorizes 1.46 mgd by modifying two existing Consumptive Use Permits (CUPs). So far, that means that no “new” water from the aquifer has been allocated for this project.
  • The plan for 30,000 head of cattle has been reduced to 17,000.
  • Although not protective enough, the cattle operation now at least has a plan to manage surface water runoff. They had no plans prior to our challenge.
  • Our collective efforts raised significant awareness about the plight of Silver Springs and its importance to the health of the St. Johns River.

I want to thank all of you who have stood by us during this fight to save Silver Springs. Thank you for writing letters, sending e-mails, speaking at the public hearing during our administrative challenge last August, attending the Governing Board meeting on Tuesday, and for contributing the funds we need for experts and legal support.

A special thank you must also go out to Karen Ahlers and Jerri Baldwin for their courage and leadership throughout this campaign and to our other partners who also joined us in challenging this project – Sierra Club and Florida Defenders of the Environment.

I am proud of the work that we have done together and look forward to working with all of you as we continue our fight to protect our aquifer, springs and rivers.

We will keep you posted about our next steps and what you can do to continue to support this effort.

In the meantime, you can learn more about Silver Springs the Sleepy Creek Lands (aka Adena Springs Ranch) permit issue by clicking here.