A state water agency has rejected a ploy by an environmental activist to get a water-use permit for "virtual wells." The Southwest Florida Water Management District board voted Tuesday to deny Steve Kingery's application to pump 99,999 gallons of water a day out of the aquifer -- because Kingery had no intention of pumping any water out of the ground at all. Kingery, 58, a semiretired air conditioning contractor from Crystal River, called the permit ploy "a fancy protest" aimed at what he sees as the state's five water management districts' habit of handing out big water-use permits instead of limiting water consumption to protect an overstressed aquifer. Kingery recruited two other activists, Tracy Colson and Matt Clemons, to file similar permit applications. However, getting a permit for water that's not actually going to be used is known as "water-banking," which is against state law. Kingery said the water agency "had no choice" but to reject his application. So far the agency has taken no action on Colson and Clemons' permits.