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Sleepy Creek Lands consumptive use permit application
Updated on 6-18-2015
Sleepy Creek Lands (formerly known as Adena Springs Ranch) in Marion County submitted two consumptive use permit (CUP) modification requests to the St. Johns River Water Management District.
- One request is an application to consolidate two existing sod farm permits on Sleepy Creek’s East Tract (see map) that have current combined allocations of 1.46 mgd into a single permit. The request further seeks to allow 0.96 mgd of the existing East Tract allocation to be withdrawn from the North Tract.
District staff completed the review of this request on May 14, 2014, and recommended that the District’s Governing Board approve that application. The staff’s recommendation to approve, was based, in part, on:
- The modification does not increase currently permitted water use allocations. The original allocations were approved in 2001 (0.55 mgd) and 2006 (0.91 mgd) and the applicant is not requesting additional water.
- At least 0.96 mgd of the allocated groundwater withdrawals would be located approximately 2.7 miles further away from Silver Springs (a total distance of 12.2 miles from the springs).
- The District’s analysis projects that the relocation of the allocated groundwater withdrawals would result in some benefit to the modeled spring flows.
- The applicant obtained an environmental resource permit (ERP) on May 12, 2014, to address potential water quality issues. The ERP requires additional water quality treatment through the establishment of vegetated upland buffers, retention berms, redistribution swales, and the implementation of other conservation practices.
On April 29, 2015, an administrative law judge issued a recommended order that the District issue Sleepy Creek a consumptive use permit to consolidate two existing sod farm permits and allow for the existing East Tract allocation to be withdrawn from the North Tract. The District’s Governing Board will enter a final order to approve or deny the CUP at the regularly scheduled July 14 Governing Board meeting in Palatka. When entering a final order, the District has limited authority to modify the recommended order.
- The other permit request seeks a new allocation of 1.12 million gallons of water per day (mgd) for use on Sleepy Creek’s North Tract (see map).
District staff completed its review of the request in July 2014 and, based on cumulative impacts to Silver Springs and the Silver River, recommended that the Governing Board deny the application at the Board’s August 2014 public meeting.
The applicant subsequently waived permitting timeframes and third parties filed petitions raising other grounds for denial in addition to cumulative impacts to Silver Springs and the Silver River. Therefore, the application is not currently scheduled to be considered by the Governing Board.
Additional details about the staff’s recommendation are available in the Technical Staff Report.
The District received a CUP application on Dec. 2, 2011, for the Adena Springs Ranch, which has since changed its name to Sleepy Creek Lands. Through the review process that included three formal Requests for Additional Information (RAI) from the District, the applicant amended its application. The requested allocation for new groundwater was reduced from an original 13 mgd to 1.12 mgd. Sleepy Creek Lands also requested the consolidation of two of its existing CUPs and the use of 1.46 mgd of groundwater on the North and East tracts. If issued, the combined total for both the new and existing groundwater allocations would be 2.58 mgd.
All of the correspondence between the applicant and District is available in the “RAIs” section of the permit application web page. All other information relating to the permit applications, including public correspondence, is also available on the permit application web page.
The permit process
During the CUP review process, the applicant and District staff evaluate the requested withdrawals using groundwater flow models. This evaluation allows District staff to simulate potential site-specific impacts of withdrawals on the Floridan and surficial aquifers, the environment, water bodies with minimum flows and levels (MFLs), as well as potential impacts on other permitted water uses. The applicant is working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and has agreed to meet all best management practices for agricultural operators.
As with all CUP applications, District staff have reviewed each application to ensure that it is for a reasonable-beneficial use, that it does not interfere with other existing legal water uses, and is consistent with the public interest.
The applicant was issued an environmental resource permit (ERP) for the construction of a stormwater system at the processing plant by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in December 2011.
The applicant constructed two 4-inch wells on the site of the processing facility. Withdrawals that do not exceed any permitting thresholds (e.g., withdrawal exceeding 100,000 gallons per day actual use, withdrawal capacity of 1 million gallons per day) can qualify for a general consumptive use permit by rule. The District authorized construction of two 12-inch wells (with associated monitoring wells) that were constructed and used in aquifer performance testing. The 12-inch wells are not active at this time.
The District issued the applicant an ERP on May 12, 2014, authorizing the construction of a stormwater management system. The District received two petitions on June 2, 2014, challenging the issuance of the ERP. The District referred those petitions to DOAH.
Both the CUP and ERP petitions were consolidated and an administrative hearing on the petitions was held Aug. 25–29, 2014, in Palatka. At that hearing, District staff presented the facts and the law that led to their approval of the ERP. The ALJ recommended approval of the ERP in his April 29, 2015, recommended order. The District will review the recommended order as well as any exceptions (objections) to the recommended order that may be filed by the parties. Depending on the circumstances, a final order on the ERP will be entered by either the Executive Director or the Governing Board.