07/15/2015 09:07 EDT | Updated 07/15/2016 05:59 EDT

Regulators grant permit allowing water to be drawn from Silver Springs

PALATKA, Fla. - State regulators have approved issuing a water permit to a ranch that would allow the pumping of almost 1.5 million gallons a day from Silver Springs in central Florida.

The St. Johns Water Management District on Tuesday approved the permit sought by Sleepy Creek Lands. The ranch is owned by Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach, founder of Aurora, Ont.-based autoparts company Magna International.

A broad coalition of environmentalist had opposed the permit.

The decision by the water management district follows a state administrative hearing last year in which a judge sided with the ranch.

Environmentalist say Silver Springs is already ailing because of heavy pumping of the Florida Aquifer by municipalities and growers.

District officials said it would reject a second permit sought by the ranch.


Information from: Orlando Sentinel,