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Niagara Bottling requests renewal, modification of water use permit

Niagara Bottling in Lake County has applied to the St. Johns River Water Management District to renew and modify its consumptive use permit (CUP) allocation. Niagara is currently permitted to withdraw up to 484,000 gallons per day (gpd) from the upper Floridian aquifer, and that permit expires in December 2013.

Details about Niagara’s renewal and modification request include:

  • Increasing its average daily withdrawal to 910,000 gpd
  • Withdrawing 63% (576,000 gpd) from the lower Floridan aquifer and 37% (334,000 gpd) from the upper Floridan aquifer
  • Reducing Niagara’s upper Floridan aquifer withdrawal from 484,000 gpd to the 334,000 gpd
  • “The application seeks an increase in allocation, and we will thoroughly evaluate potential water resource impacts as we do with every application submitted,” said Mike Register, director of the District’s Division of Regulatory Services.

    In its application materials, Niagara indicates that by taking less water from the upper Floridan aquifer, impacts to the surficial and upper Floridan aquifers would be reduced.

    The lower Floridan aquifer is separated from the upper Floridan aquifer and subsequently from the land surface by a semi-confining unit. Because of this semi-confining unit and the productive nature of the lower Floridan, withdrawals from the lower Floridan in that area typically have less impacts than withdrawals from the upper Floridan in that area.

    The District issued Niagara a CUP in September 2009 to use up to 484,000 gpd to manufacture plastic water bottles and to purify groundwater for bottled drinking water using a reverse osmosis process at its facility northwest of Groveland. The permit was issued after nearly two years of review and evaluation that included a hearing before an administrative law judge who recommended that the District issue the permit.

    The District has until Oct. 10, 2013, to determine whether the application is complete. If the application is considered complete, District staff will determine if the requested allocation of water meets District permitting criteria. If the application is not complete, the District will request additional information from Niagara.

    The District’s Governing Board would make the final decision on whether to issue or deny the permit at a public meeting once the application is complete and staff have made a recommendation to approve or deny the application.

    Niagara is one of seven bottled water operations permitted in the 18-county St. Johns River Water Management District. Those seven bottled water companies are allocated a combined total of 2.055 million gallons a day, less than 3/10 of 1 percent of the water used in the District on a daily basis.