We were talking about this guy in class today. His name is Ed!

Website: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20070514/LOCAL/705140324

Sun staff writer


Published: Monday, May 14, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 14, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.


HIGH SPRINGS – A nudist who acts as caretaker of Lilly Springs supports the proposal to bottle the spring’s water. Neighbors are organizing in opposition. And the co-owner of the land around the springs says he’s just trying to quench the public’s insatiable thirst for bottled water.


Welcome to the wonderful world of water wars. In 21st century Florida, get used to it.

The owners of the land around Lilly Springs seek to bottle an average of 1 million gallons a day. Santa Fe River paddlers know these springs thanks to the presence of John Edward “Naked Ed” Watts, the gray-bearded nudist who has served as the property’s caretaker for more than two decades.

Sitting next to the hut where he stays and watches over the springs, Watts said he believes the bottling proposal won’t affect his presence there or the flow of the water. He’s comfortable with the property owner’s rationale that the proposal is merely a response to demand for spring water.

“As long as there’s a market for bottled water, there will be bottled-water plants,” he said. “They’ve got to be in somebody’s backyard.”

But dry conditions and low groundwater levels have exacerbated concerns about water bottling in the Suwannee River Water Management District. Groundwater levels in 91 monitoring wells fell an average of 10 inches from the previous month, according to the district. Nine wells set new lows for the month and two wells set new historic lows.

The news comes as South Florida deals with a full-fledged water crisis, forcing irrigation restrictions and the clamping of coastal wells to prevent saltwater intrusion. But Kirk Webster, the Suwannee district’s deputy executive director for water resources, said there should be no concerns of a similar crisis here.


One response to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I knew about Ed, but not the bottled water debate. It really problematizes the idea that if you’re “closer to nature,” you’re automatically an environmentalist. Regardless of whether bottling would affect groundwater levels, bottled water creates a lot of waste (all that plastic!)

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