Stew Lilker’s

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Columbia County's Legislative Delegation Gets a Visual: Bottled Water Is Also About the Bottles

Environmentalist and Our Santa Fe River Board member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson address the Legislative Delegation.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  As the curtain drew down on yesterday's legislative delegation meeting, the environment, a bellwether issue for Florida, was brought front and center by environmentalist and springs protector Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson. Strikingly, she let everybody know that bottling Florida's spring water is also about the bottles.

The delegation was represented by Senator Jennifer Bradley and her staff and only Representative Brannan's staff, as he was down with the coronavirus.

Early yesterday morning, your reporter asked Ms. Malwitz-Jipson if she would be attending the afternoon's legislative delegation meeting. She said she wasn't planning on attending, but after a brief conversation, she said she would get ready and attend.

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With Niagara's recent water bottling plant overtures to Columbia County and the Seven Springs – Nestlé water use permit renewal application waiting for a decision from an administrative law judge, Ms. Malwitz-Jipson came before the delegation to give her take on the region's water situation.

Covered in a shawl of empty water bottles, she told the delegation, "I am standing in opposition to one of the most unnecessary businesses currently operating in the state of Florida."

"I have spent years of research fighting off four new permits to bottle water from our iconic springs in North Central Florida, and our community was successful in fending off four of them directly in and along the Santa Fe River.”

A Trillion Gallons of Water
6,000 Bottles a Minute

Ms. Malwitz-Jipson waits patiently for her turn to address the delegation

Ms. Malwitz-Jipson continued, “These types of businesses extract over a trillion gallons of fresh water a year from our shared water resources, while local businesses and communities are competing for the exact same freshwater supplies to live and thrive.”

“These tiny packages are invested in removing our water completely out of the water cycle, only to be shipped to the ends of the Earth and discarded in one way or another – [bottles] that end up in our waterways, roadways, neighborhoods, and landfills – forever.”

“At just one of the 28 operations in our state, in High Springs, Florida, Nestle and the permit applicant Seven Springs Water Company are hoping to manufacture 6000 plastic bottles each minute filled with our spring water.”

Ms. Malwitz-Jipson urged the delegation to support Senate Bill 652, which would institute an excise tax of 12.5 cents a gallon “on water extracted from waters of the state,” and directing the tax to support “wastewater treatment and stormwater management.”

Ms. Malwitz-Jipson said, “Any and every effort to improve drinking water only helps to eliminate disease, extra household expenditures and thereby creates obsolescence of this planetary corporate polluter.”

She continued, “Do not be deceived by the industry's claims of a better bottle. The facts are obvious, and we cannot afford to allow businesses such as these to proliferate and prosper, while freshwater is depleted, degraded, and wastes are continuously discarded into the environment.”

Ms. Malwitz-Jipson concluded, “We hope that you will support the great freshwater state of Florida and oppose new water bottle grabs.”

Senator Bradley thanked Ms. Malwitz-Jipson for her remarks.

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