Some local residents were celebrating Thursday's recommendation by Administrative Law Judge, David Maloney to deny Bay County permits for ten emergency water wells near the Bay-Washington County line. But, many also realized the celebration could be short lived.
Bay County officials said they needed the wells as an emergency back-up for drinking water in case something happened to Deerpoint Lake. But, residents on both sides of the county line said the plan would threaten the area's lakes, ponds and underground aquifers.
Bay County resident Peggy Rose told us Thursday's recommendation to deny the well drilling permits was not an end to the issue.
"County commissioners are wanting this. The DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) wants this. The judge apparent is giving this back to the DEP and county commissioners to do whatever they want to do. It doesn't make since, why even do this? I guess [the hearing was] to make us feel better that we had a judge" said Rose.
Rose has lived on White Western Lake since 1993. When the weather gets dry, she said the lake did too.
"This was Bay County's best kept secret. It's completely changed now. It looks like mud holes now- it makes you want to cry" Rose said.
The proposed wells would require 5-million gallons of water a day stay operational. Judge Maloney said it was an excessive amount, and Rose agreed.
Rose explained, "Besides what Bay County wants to draw out of the lakes around here, now there's also been a lot of building going on around the lakes and in the area. There drawing water out and we have no control over it. So, [the lake] just can't support it, it really can't."
She's been trying to rally neighbors to challenge county commissioners on the issue.
"We really haven't won anything. This is just the first battle of a big battle. But, we're still here and we're not going anywhere" Rose said.
Washington County officials, who are also opposed to the wells, told us they were preparing for another round as well.
"It's not over yet" Washington County Attorney, Jeff Goodman said,
"You don't get too excited. You scored a touchdown today and that was an important victory. But, both parties still have the opportunity to respond."
Northwest Florida Water Management Could ignore Judge Maloney's recommendation and issue the permits anyway. Either side can also take the issue to the District Court of Appeals.