Florida activists devise water use protest: applying for 'virtual wells'

Three Citrus County environmental activists have filed applications with the state for each of them to pump 99,999 gallons of water a day out of the aquifer.

But they really don't want to pump any of it. Their goal is to block anyone else — particularly big farming operations or developers — from taking it. They'd rather let nature keep using it.

"We're drilling virtual wells," explained Tracy Colson, 51, a Crystal River native who runs Nature Coast Kayak Tours and is a devoted manatee advocate. "We'll just leave it where it is."

The idea came from Steve Kingery, 58, a semiretired air conditioning contractor from Crystal River. He calls the permit ploy "a fancy protest" of the way the state's five water management districts hand out big water-use permits. Then he recruited Colson and Matt Clemons, 59, a former state biologist and now owner of Aardvark's Florida Kayak Co. to follow suit.

Clemons says he expects the application to expose inequities in the state's water policies. "If we can't get permits to use the water … and yet you can get permits to use it to sell bottled water, that makes no sense," he said.

Read more : http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/water/activists-seek-big-water-use-permits-but-only-use-is-to-protect-aquifer/2142819