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Call to Action: No More Plastic Water Bottles

Finally, time to nix single-use plastic water bottles

Call to Action: No More Plastic Water Bottles

Noxious filamentous blue-green algae blooms in Gilchrist Blue Spring, 2020, fueled by excessive nutrients and diminished freshwater flows. It’s past time to protect our springs. Photo by John Moran

The reasons for eliminating the use of plastic bottled water are numerous. First, you pay something like 2,000 times what you’d pay for typical tap water. Then there’s the cost our planet pays via the pollution created by manufacturing the plastic bottles and cost associated with discarded plastic water bottles. And finally, the most immediate impact and reason to stop buying plastic water bottles today: the harm it's doing to our springs and connected rivers and estuaries.

The extraction of millions of gallons of water a day from our state’s springs and artesian wells, at virtually no cost to the bottler, has a very direct impact to the state.

Stopping the use of plastic water bottles isn’t a novel revelation or an out-of-the-blue concept. Defenders of our springs have been fighting this for decades. Even corporations have joined the effort to wean us off our ever-growing plastic addiction. It’s time.

Costa sunglasses launched the Kick Plastic initiative in 2015 to encourage anglers to cut back on the amount of single-use plastic. And today Costa claims the Kick Plastic Ambassador program participants have eliminated more than 3 million single-use plastic water bottles from their guide and outfitter operations.

Let’s “Take Back the Tap,” and/or “Stop the Bottle Water Grab.” Both good ideas, and two campaigns launched years ago by other organizations trying to help curb plastic water bottle demand.

The idea or concept of stopping your plastic water bottle purchases doesn’t have to be “perfection,” commented Lia Colabello, Costa, or complete cold turkey. But, we want to make progress she emphasized. I agree.

Let’s make progress. Let’s take personal responsibility and end this manufactured demand for plastic water bottles.

Unfortunately, it is up to us. We can’t rely on the government to end single-use water bottles. The multi-billion-dollar plastic bottle water cartel has too strong a lobby. Think about it, they siphon the water from our springs for free and sell it back to us for billions of dollars. They’ll lock up their mother to keep this scheme going for as long as our water lasts.

And that’s exactly what should be alarming coastal anglers explained Capt. Joe Richard, a Cedar Key and Steinhatchee fishing guide. “Anglers who target trout and redfish should be concerned about how Florida’s freshwater is being consumed before reaching the coast. Why? Reduction of fresh water means you harm the oysters, and as most anglers know oyster beds are vital habitat for coastal gamefish and various marine species.”

“We’ve stopped four bottling companies from coming into our area between 2006-10,” explained Merrilee Malwitz-Jipson, a fiery Santa Fe River advocate and owner of Rum 138, a kayak sales and rental business. “But, they keep coming. Bigger. The nutrient loading and extraction rates are three times the historical levels now,” Merrilee said. “It’s unsustainable.”

The Florida Springs Council has filed a lawsuit over the recent tripling of the amount of water permitted to be extracted from the local springs. They’ve also encouraged legislation, which dies in committee, that would create a use-fee for taking the water. And while pressure from the weary springs advocates did have an effect with limiting the permit from its typical 20 years to five years, I think real change won’t happen until demand for plastic water bottles dries up.

And speaking of drying up: Dr. Bob Knight of the Florida Springs Institute not only says the coastal waters are getting saltier due to the freshwater extractions, but they’re also getting more polluted. Knight said that over 5,000 tons of nitrogen is going into the Gulf from the Suwannee River annually from the over 3,000 farms in the Suwannee River watershed.


I realize this weighs a bit on the preachy side, but it’s also very scary. The fortunate thing is the solution is manageable. Simple really, and it’ll save us money. And if the photo in this column, by John Moran, of a starving and polluted Gilchrist Blue Springs (2020) doesn’t scare the plastic out of your hand, I’m not sure what will. FS



“Take Back the Tap”

“Stop the Bottle Water Grab”

“Say No to Nestle”

“Kick Plastic”

Published Florida Sportsman Magazine August/September 2022

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