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FDEP favors Oldcastle mining plan

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has signaled its intent to issue a key permit to Oldcastle Southern Group, the Tampa-based company with plans to mine course sand from 264 acres in the southeastern county.

Last week FDEP notified the company as well as the county and other regulatory agencies of its intent to issue an environmental resource permit required for projects that impact surface water.

Oldcastle intends to mine using a floating dredge that moves over man-made lakes, which grow larger as more land is mined.

The notice of intent to issue the permit, which the company must publish in the newspaper, gives anyone with “substantial interests to be affected” by the permit 21 days from the publication date to petition for an administrative hearing.

The hearing could delay or halt final approval of the permit.

 

Oldcastle still has a consumptive use permit application pending with the St. Johns River Water Management District to withdraw more than 2 million gallons per day from the aquifer for up to five years of the multi-decade mining project.

The withdrawal may not be needed, however.

The company has been negotiating a deal to accept an estimated 750,000 gallons per day of the City of Macclenny’s treated wastewater as an alternative source.

“There is enough water from the city to supply all of our water needs,” said Oldcastle public relations consultant Elizabeth Revelle. “We won’t even have to drill a shallow well. We’ll use 100 percent reclaimed water from the city.”

She said anticipated operations were scaled down to one shift per day during the first five years to cut back on water use.

Once the FDEP permit is issued and an agreement for the city’s wastewater is finalized, Oldcastle could withdraw its consumptive use permit application with the water management district.

“We’re working on getting the details together and once we have all that done, putting pen to paper so to speak, we could potentially withdraw our application. But we don’t want to put the cart before the horse, or shoot ourselves in the foot by withdrawing before then,” Ms. Revelle said of the wastewater reuse agreement.

Oldcastle, which has pledged to fund the infrastructure to transport the wastewater five miles south to the mining location east of SR 228, would need a different permit from the water management district to complete the reuse system.

Such a system would also eliminate the city’s daily discharge of wastewater into Turkey Creek. Assistant City Manager Roger Yarborough said the city intends to maintain the discharge permit as a precaution, however.

As the source of the wastewater, the city would need a reuse permit from FDEP for the transfer to OldCastle, agency spokeswoman Shane Magher said.

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