I recently read about a very disturbing threat to Florida’s water supply on one of my favorite blogs, Visual Ephemera. I’m often questioned about my reasons for not eating meat. The truth is that it’s just easy for me, and I was raised in a mostly vegetarian household. I don’t really call myself a vegetarian, vegan, or feel the need to otherwise label my dietary habits; if I feel like cheating, I don’t beat myself up over it. But over the past year, with the support of my newly reborn veggie family, I’ve been finding reason to cut more and more animal products out of my diet. This is one of them.
Adena Springs Ranch is a 30,000 acre cattle ranch being developed by Canadian car parts billionaire Frank Stronach in Marion County. Stronach’s concept is to raise is 30,000 head of beef on grass and in order to do so, he has requested a permit from the St. Johns Water Management District (SJWMD) to withdraw 13 million gallons of groundwater a day from the Floridan Aquifer. That is more than the largest city in the area, Ocala, uses in an entire day. The ranch is located within the springshed of Silver Springs, meaning that the ranch would share the same source of water as Florida’s iconic springs. With the water amount flowing through Silver Springs already at record lows, due to drought and increased demand on the aquifer, the approval of Stronach’s request could doom Silver Springs as we know it.
I remember being so shocked by my first grown up road trip to the middle of the state. Wildflowers burst across the medians on I-75 north, and oh my gosh, there are actually hills. I once even spotted a vulture and bald eagle brawling over some prey. Then my friends took me tubing an hour outside of Tallahassee, in Marianna. I’d never been swimming in fresh water before then. We floated along the cool, alligator and otter filled water for hours, at times having to stand up and wade, pulling the beer tube along behind us. I was ENCHANTED.
I understand the important role that agriculture plays for our state. Discouraging business and potential job creation on the basis of environmental concerns is one of those hot button issues that puts a big fat LEFT WING LIBERAL sticker right on my forehead, but the facts speak for themselves. The thousands of gallons of water required to produce a mere pound of beef is NOT SUSTAINABLE for Florida. Shouldn’t we think ahead a little bit here, invest our natural resources in a way that will yield the best payout not only in dollars earned, but dollars saved? The way things are going now, within twenty years time, when the groundwater is polluted with cow shit and we can’t use Silver Springs as a tourist attraction anymore, smart people won’t be eating animal products with the same voracity that they do now anyway. Meat consumption is on the decline, and we’re in the middle of a terrible drought. The last thing Florida needs is a cattle farm sucking up 13 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER a day.
To read more and learn how you can get involved, visit the Water Action Team. Take action for water right now by signing the petition to deny Adena Springs’ request for the exorbitant sacrifice from our aquifer.