MANATEE Manatee County commissioners Thursday unanimously OKd operating permits for three phosphate mines in East Manatee.
The three mines the Southeast Tract, Four Corners and the Altman Tract are working mines operated by Mosaic Fertilizer.
The commission voted to grant operating permits lasting five years.
A handful of speakers representing environmental organizations urged the commission to deny the companys requests, but commissioners said that it had fulfilled all the requirements. They voted 7-0 in favor.
Speaker Barbara Angelucci said she was concerned about the companys water usage.
Theres going to be a definite problem in Manatee County, in accommodating all its water needs, she said.
What is the public benefit of shooting 69 million gallons a day into the ground? she asked, as opposed to providing residents with drinking water.
Company officials said all their mining facilities combined are permitted to draw up to 69 million gallons of water a day, but they typically use much less, and observe the latest in re-use and water conservation techniques.
The Southeast Tract totals 2,611 acres; Four Corners, 11,715; and the Altman Tract, 2,048, according to county documents.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.