Oil exploration in Collier County is one step closer to final approval.
The South Florida Water Management District approved a five-year water use permit for the Dan A. Hughes Company, which wants to look for oil near Golden Gate Estates in Eastern Collier County.
The proposed oil exploration site, which is within 1,000 feet of homes in the area, has drawn a lot of protests from nearby residents.
While drilling requires final approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Hughes Company already cleared one big hurdle.
Randy Smith, a spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District, said the permit allows the company to pump five million gallons a month from two local wells, which he said won’t impact nearby residents’ water supplies.
“As long as it has no impact on adjacent users, then the district is obligated to issue the permit,” he said.
The company needs water to clean equipment and to mix with chemicals used in the oil drilling process.
Smith said the successful permit application means the drilling process would not do environmental harm.
“It means you’ve gone through a very rigorous process ahead of time to provide information that, for example, says that the impact will not impact wetlands that may be in the area,” he said. “You have to provide scientific proof of that and that you can’t do any harm to the shallow aquifer where you are drawing that water.”
Opponents, however, have said the drill site is too close to conservation areas and would hurt the property values of nearby homes.