Controversy comes from request to pump more water from local aquifer



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - There's new controversy surrounding the Niagara Bottling Company in Lake County.

Channel 9 found out state water managers gave Niagara permission to pull an additional 1.5 million gallons of water for hurricane relief in the northeast, but it's not clear whether the new water was donated or sold.

Joe and Jeane Szymborski, homeowners in The Woodlands of Lake County, said they believe most people living in their community no longer gave much thought to their neighbor on the hill.

"Because they haven't made any waves. Now they're making a wave, so it comes to the surface again," said Jeanne Szymborski.

The Niagara Water Bottling plant has been operating for years.

They were recently issued a permit by the St. Johns River Water Management District to pull 177 million gallons per year from the aquifer, to bottle and sell.

Niagara asked to pull more water from the aquifer to supply bottled water to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The request also comes after the company's plant in Pennsylvania was hit by a power outage and Niagara didn't want the additional water to count toward the 177 million gallon limit in Lake County.

In a memo, it's unclear if the company intended to donate the water or sell it and that has residents in The Woodlands community concerned.

Hans Tanzler, the director of St. John's River Water Management, gave the company the green light without checking with the district's board of directors first.

The board of directors is scheduled to meet Tuesday to decide whether it will approve the director's action.