Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida/NorthFlorida News

Fourth Kayaktivism Event Scheduled for Saturday, May 29, on the Santa Fe River: Depleting the Springs and Plastic is the Issue

Kayak on the Santa Fe River with a plastic bottle collage of empty bottles
Photo: Lucy Antsey | Columbia County Observer graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The Kayaktivism event scheduled for Saturday, May 29, on the Santa Fe River is the fourth kayaktivist paddle that Our Santa Fe River has staged on the iconic Santa Fe River in front of the Ginnie Springs Outdoors Campground.

Our Santa Fe River Advocacy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (Merrillee) said, "The state of Florida issued a 984,000 gallon per day Water Use Permit to family members associated with Ginnie Springs Outdoors. The water is free for them to sell to a major international corporation. Nestle just sold the water bottling plant to Metropoulos and One Rock, who intend to rebrand Zephyrhills bottle brand to Blue Triton Brands."

Merrillee continued, “We are making the connection by protesting at this location. The two water wells that are sucking the water out of Ginnie Springs and the Devil's Eye Complex are located directly on the Ginnie Springs Campground land.”

Sharon Yeago, a clean water activist who lives along the river, said, “We are demanding Ginnie Springs' family members relinquish their Water Use Permit. The drawdown of the springs contributes to an impending global crisis due to throw-away single-use plastic bottles and the serious depletion of our vulnerable springs in the area. The water they are selling out of these springs is enough water for eleven towns the size of Fort White, Florida. It's our community's water. We demand that this water stays in the natural systems that support our environment and us.”

kayaktivism signs and empty plastic bottles

Another View

Last night, during the virtual North Central Florida Regional Planning Council monthly meeting, your reporter mentioned the Kayaktivism event and inquired if the Council has contemplated alternating virtual and in-person meetings in the future.

The 12 county NCFRPC region is almost 8,000 square miles and has some representatives driving well over an hour each way to the meetings.

Without asking for permission to address the Council, City of Newberry Commissioner Mark Clark took exception and jumped in: “Mr. Chairman, I’m not here to make problems, but you know when you hear these things about us gettin' together and doin' our job and then when they're gonna drive 500 cars to the springs to save fifty gallons of water. So just tell him that."

Chairman Charles Chestnut responded, "OK, well, thank you."

Kayaktivism Specifics

Rum 138 sign
Satellite parking. Look for the sign on CR 138, approximately 2 miles from SR 27.

Date:  Saturday May 29

Time:  11 am until 2 pm 

Location: Santa Fe River, along the one and a half miles of Ginnie Springs' river frontage (starting at the tube launch until the tube take-out signs).

Parking limited: carpool and use your own equipment. Parking and boat ramps at Rum Island Park and SR 47 Bridge Park.

Satellite, remote parking at Rum 138: $5 parking fee at the boat ramp parks. $5 shuttle services for drivers only (with Rum 138).

Host:  Our Santa Fe River,  Advocacy Director of OSFR, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Merrilleeart@gmail.com, 352-222-8893,   


Sunrise Movement Hub, Gainesville, FL, Alex Smock, SunriseGainesville@gmail.com, 352-514-7735

Mermaid Michi, Michelle Colson, naturallymichi@gmail.com, 352-467-0800 

Extinction Rebellion, Kate Kenzi, ecowarriorprincess143@gmail.com, 813-317-7838

Florida Springs Council, Brenda Wells, brenda.wells@gmail.com, 352-281-4255

The Florida Springs Institute, Haley Moody, hmoody@floridaspringsinstitute.com, 205-299-2061

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