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Water management district sues unpermitted sand mine in Lake County


The St. Johns River Water Management District has gone to court to stop an unpermitted mining operation in Sorrento that supplies sand for the Wekiva Parkway project.

White Water Farms claims to be exempt from permits under Florida's Right to Farm Act. The owners say they are really preparing a blueberry farm, not running a sand mine.

State officials disagree. They say 30 of its 80 acres are a full-fledged mining operation and the company had a $2 million contract for fill dirt.

Nearby residents have complained, and Lake County has tried in court to shut it down, so far without success.

The water management district’s lawsuit says the mining continued last week despite an order to stop. It seeks fines totaling more than $4 million.

Company president Kirk Leiffer wrote in a December oped that they are exempt from permits but will get them anyway because they are, quote, "dedicated to environmental best practices."

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.