Adena Springs Ranch
In many cases Florida cows are shipped out of state to be fattened and then processed, but the Adena Springs Ranch, which is owned by Frank Stronach, has a different vision.
"They will make their way through their lifecycle up through the ranch moving through areas that we call pivot areas," said Honey Rand who is the Communications Coordinator for Adena Springs Ranch.
Rand said the ranch will raise grass fed cattle and then slaughter and process the beef on-site.
"They will be there through a period of time. They will graze, they will leave behind product which we use as fertilizer and then they will move their way up through the northern most part of the ranch which is where the processing plant facility is," said Rand.
In order to make this possible, the ranch needs a consumptive use permit from the St.Johns River Water Management District.
Hank Largin with the district said at first Adena Springs planned on asking for 27 million gallons of water per day. They then reduced their request.
"After those pre application meetings, when they first applied for the application, they asked for 13.267 mgd and that was in December 2011," said Largin.
The water district requested additonal information including an aquifer performance test.
"Certified hydro geologist and professional geologist were hired to come in do the evaluation according to the specifications set by the water management district. The test demonstrated that there would be no material impact to the aquifer what so ever," said Rand.
Adena Springs Ranch reduced their water request again, to 5.3 million gallons of water per day.
"What they were able to do was adjust the number of pivots and adjust the location of those pivots in order to be able to reduce the demand," said Rand.
"I would much rather see water being pumped out of the aquifer to go to an industry that's going to help provide food for us than to for say recreational uses ," said resident David Deen.
"Do you think it is reasonable to pump 5.3 mgd a day?"
"Well that's the permit request is for 5.3 mgd in order to create this beef product. The district decides whether that is a reasonable request or not and they are in the process of doing that now. We believe it is," said Rand.
Some conservationists disagree.
"If this permit is granted you are going to see just the steady decrease of the quality in Silver Springs," said Guy Marwick who is a member of the Silver Springs Alliance.
Marwick said he fears pumping 5.3 mgd will affect the springs flow.
the number of cattle on the property also concerns him.
the ranch is projected to have up 15,000 cattle. All producing fertilizer.
"You can't put a million pounds on the ground everyday. Day in day out, year in year out and not expect it to wash into nearby waters. The only two directions it could flow is the Ocklawaha and the Silver River. That is where it will drain into the run off of that property," said Marwick.
Largin with the water district said there are many factors to consider when granting such a large permit.
"Theres the springs in the area. The impact to those. What impact is this going to have on the other water users in the area. How is it going to impact the aquifer. Do they really need this amount of water," said Largin.
On April 18, 2013 the ranch responded to the request.
"Our staff now is going over their response materials to determine whether or not there application is complete. It's very rare where we have to actually turn down a permit, but it doesn't mean that everybody gets what they want on every permit. That just doesn't happen," said Largin.
While Adena Springs Ranch has made some adjustments on their permit request, they now feel confident.
"We believe the permit will be granted. We believe we have submitted necessary materials that meet all rule criteria and so we believe the permit will be granted," said Rand.
The district has until May 18, 2013 to decide if the application is complete.
Then the final decision lies in the hands of the St. Johns Water Managment District Governing Board.
A decision that may come as soon as July.
If the permit is granted at 5.3 million gallons a day, this would be the fourth largest consumptive water use permit in Marion County.
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