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Monday, December 31, 2007

Forest Service must allow for use of lands, but still preserve them for future

Published Dec. 30, 2007
The oldest national forest in the eastern continental U.S., it was even created in controversy a century ago, leading to an unusual nickname: the "Midnight Forest."

The Forest is bound roughly by the Ocklawaha River on the north and west, the St. Johns River on the east, and almost the county line to the south.

The Juniper Springs Recreation Area was conceived and constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 to attract visitors to the Ocala National Forest for recreational use.
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Ocala Forest is a land of contrasts

Published Dec. 30, 2007
You and your neighbors own 384,000 acres known as the Ocala National Forest. And this mighty land holding will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Nov. 24, 2008.

..camping is available. Most of it is primitive. Except for Salt Springs, the campgrounds generally do not have water and electric. But there are two cabins that are rented and, at Alexander and Juniper Springs, there are bathhouses for campers.

The Forest Service also works with other government agencies. The U.S. Geological Survey and St. Johns River Water Management District have permits for monitoring wells for water levels and quality in the Forest. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission operates a shooting range and manages wildlife.
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Protect springs yes, but be reasonable

Published Dec. 30, 2007 (Opinion)
The adequate management of septic tanks is a national and state concern. A 1998 report to the National Onsite Demonstration Program expert panel meeting at Ohio State University showed that more than 7,000 septic tanks malfunction somewhere in the U.S. each day, or roughly 2.6 million units malfunction each year.

Marion County is clearly part of this national issue, which we began to address three years ago by investing over $1 million to study our future water needs. From this study came policy for protecting our water resources flowing into two of the state's most pristine and productive springs.
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Time To Resolve Weeki Wachee Issues

Published: December 23, 2007
We now have an opportunity to ensure that the historic Weeki Wachee Attraction remains open to the public and the internationally known mermaid shows continue to enchant future generations.

Under the direction of former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ben Overton, mediation talks over four months involving the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Weeki Wachee and the Department of Environmental Protection have produced a letter of intent. Signed by DEP and Weeki Wachee, the detailed letter spells out DEP's plans to operate the attraction as a state park, which will not only ensure its existence, but also enhance the facility and its amenities so even more people can enjoy a slice of old-style Florida entertainment.
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Trash it

Published Dec. 23, 2007 (Opinion)
To protect the karst-sensitive and high water recharge areas within Marion County, an ordinance was enacted in 2001 prohibiting any more Class I, II, or III landfills being built or expanded after Jan. 1, 2002. No private, no commercial, no governmental, no more landfills in Marion County, period!

Landfill liners leak at the rate of one leak per 1,000 feet of seam, and this type of leak is not always picked up by the groundwater monitoring wells. So, in addition to the continuing sight, sound and smell associated with another landfill cell, there is the continuing risk to the Silver Springs water supply.
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Thirsty counties seek to tap rivers

Published December 22, 2007
The era of pumping cheap water from the aquifer has come to an end in Central Florida, just as it did in Tampa Bay a decade ago. For utilities and water managers wary of the risk and expense of desalination, river water is the next obvious source.

To quench this thirst, cities and counties plan to spend nearly $1-billion on three projects to pump and treat water from the St. Johns River, which stretches from Indian River County to Jacksonville.

So far, 15 public utilities in Lake, Marion and Putnam counties have asked to tap into the Ocklawaha, a major tributary of the St. Johns.
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wekiwa Springs State Park offers options, a plunge

Published December 21, 2007
A hike through Wekiwa Springs State Park, which hugs the Orange/Seminole border near Apopka, provides all the natural sights and sounds of an unspoiled Central Florida the way it once was.

"I can't think of a better way to end a hike in Florida," said Jon Phipps, an avid hiker and member of the Central Florida Chapter of the Florida Trail Association. "The spring is right there. It's not only beautiful, but it always makes you feel better."
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DEP permit aims to protect springs

Published December 21, 2007
The proposed permits and legal agreement require the city to reduce nitrogen in wastewater by 75 percent. The city also will study expanding the use of treated wastewater on landscaping and will improve the treatment of sewage sludge to make it available as a lawn fertilizer.

The public will have 21 days to file legal challenges once the permit notices are published in the newspaper.

City officials said they were anxious to receive the permits because delays could force them to halt planning for at least $160 million for the Lake Bradford Road and Thomas P. Smith wastewater plants.
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Manatee License Plate

Published Dec 20, 2007
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) unveiled a new look for an old favorite today at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. FWC Regional Director Greg Holder unveiled the new design for the Florida manatee license plate.

“This is an exciting day for the FWC and the Florida manatee,” Holder said. “With the sales from this plate, we hope to generate revenues that will sustain valuable manatee research and conservation for years to come.”
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St. Johns dredging in line for $2.8 million

Published 12/20/07
Jacksonville Port Authority stands to receive $2.8 million in federal funds to spend on a long-planned dredging project in the St. Johns River.

Port Authority Director Rick Ferrin said the money will help pay for a $22 million project to deepen a 5.5-mile section of the river including Talleyrand and the Chaseville Turn. The navigable depth will go from 38 to 41 feet and the turn will be widened, he said.
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Sulphur Springs Revisited

Published: December 20, 2007
In 1986, high fecal coliform bacteria counts forced the city to close the spring to swimmers, along with the lagoon that carries the spring water to the river. The bacteria, which originate in waste from warm-blooded animals and humans, are carried to the spring via sinkholes north of Sulphur Springs, as well as in stormwater runoff from the surrounding area.

Activists such as Russell hold out hope that someday the spring will be clean enough to swim in again. On a recent walk beneath the mossy live oaks around the spring, Russell stared sadly at the "No Swimming" signs on fences around the spring and lagoon.
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Thursday, December 20, 2007

UPDATE: One year later, spray field agreement on track, attorney says

Published December 19, 2007
A year after the signing of a settlement agreement to a legal challenging involving Tallahassee's wastewater spray field and Wakulla Springs, an environmental group attorney said he still expects the agreement to be honored.

The agreement largely resolved a legal challenge filed by environmental groups and Wakulla County against a permit proposed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The challengers, along with then-Attorney General Charlie Crist, said the permit failed to protect the springs.

A year later, city officials say they’re awaiting a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. A DEP spokeswoman said she expects a permit to be proposed soon, but she can't be more specific.
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A plan to protect nature, honor history

Published December 20, 2007 (Opinion)
It's not every day government has the opportunity to simultaneously preserve a one-of-a-kind natural resource and a charming combination of state history and cultural nostalgia. The potential to do both exists in the state Department of Environmental Protection's proposal to transform Weeki Wachee Springs into a state park.

The proposal, announced at the state Cabinet meeting Tuesday, would require the state to accept ownership of the 60-year-old tourist attraction from the city of Weeki Wachee, which owns the company that operates the park. The land is owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which bought it from the city of St. Petersburg in 2001 for $16-million.
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Weeki Wachee: State Or County Park?

Published: December 19, 2007
Weeki Wachee Springs is one step closer to becoming a state park, but attraction officials say they want to first rule out the possibility of being included in the Hernando County park system.

County officials said Tuesday they are willing to consider that but are hesitant to jump into the middle of the ongoing, court-ordered mediation between the mermaid attraction and its landlord, the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
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Water conservation not just 'symbolic'

Published on: 12/19/07
At a news conference to tout the success of his mandate to cut water use by 10 percent in the northern third of the state, Perdue clarified comments he'd made in late October to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's editorial board. At that time, Perdue said conservation was largely symbolic and would have a negligible effect on the area's supply.

The amount of water needed for Florida's Apalachicola River — more than 3 billion gallons a day — is being met by the other federal reservoirs on the Chattahoochee, and local stream flows, according to the corps.
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County demands river data

Published Dec. 19, 2007
St. Johns officials want counties and municipalities to choose by March or April the alternative water supplies they plan to be part of, so planning and early design may start. But minimum flows and levels for the Ocklawaha and Silver rivers are not due until the end of 2009. The Silver River feeds the Ocklawaha with water from Silver Springs.

Minimum flows and levels are intended to show a point at which any more surface withdrawals or groundwater withdrawals in the area could cause environmental harm. St. Johns officials told the County Commission during a meeting in late October that no plans to pump the Ocklawaha would be approved until minimum flows and levels were in place.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

State may go into mermaid business

Published December 19, 2007
The owners of Weeki Wachee Springs want to give their pre-Disney tourist attraction to the state, making it a new Florida State Park.

Supporters say Weeki Wachee Springs would be a coup for the Florida State Parks system. At a depth of 403 feet, it's the deepest spring in the United States and would round off a list of Tampa Bay area state parks, including Hillsborough River, Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island state parks.
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Rose Creek cleanup deemed successful

Published December 18, 2007
More than 25 volunteers spent their Saturday to help clean up Rose Creek sink cave and to build a litter screen across the Creek to help stop the flow of trash into the sink that could eventually contaminate the areas drinking water.

The two projects were pronounced a success by Lamar Hires, diver and owner of Dive Rite; Jim Stevenson, coordinator of the Ichetucknee Springs Working Group; and John Wheeler, Rotary Club member.
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Riley pleased with water talks

Published 12/19/2007
Riley said the agreement will cover the two river basins shared by the three states, and he believes it will include raising the winter level of Alabama reservoirs by 3 to 4 feet. "That's almost like building another reservoir," Riley said.

Riley said the staffs of the three governors will go to Washington after the first of the year to work with federal agencies on developing a water sharing plan. The governors intend to agree to a plan by Feb. 15. Then, he said, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will have 30 days to review it instead of the normal 130 days.
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Florida approves new license plate

Published 12/18/07
Tuesday, Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet approved a new "Protect Florida Springs" specialty license plate that will raise money to help protect Florida's natural springs.



The proceeds will also be used for research and education.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New water plans will be delayed

Published Dec. 17, 2007
Plans to slow the flood of pollutants into Marion County's groundwater and springs won't be ready for commissioners to consider by January as hoped.

Last month, after rejecting stiff rules meant to stem the tide of increasing nitrogen seeping from septic tanks into groundwater, county commissioners directed staff to come back with a revised plan two months later.

County Growth Management Bureau Chief Michael May said last week that after his first proposal failed, he would approach the board more carefully the next time, with more information and more community involvement in the plan.
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Divers Successfully Complete World Record Dive from Turner Sink to Wakulla Springs

Published 12-17-2007
Jarrod Jablonski and Casey McKinlay, divers with the non-profit Woodville Karst Plain Project, successfully completed a world record cave dive this past weekend in Wakulla County, Florida. McKinlay, 39, and Jablonski, 38, spent seven hours at 300 feet below the earth's surface diving the cave passages and another 13 hours decompressing for a total of 20 hours in the water. While a record for cave diving was definitely broken, the real reason for making the dive was to show that the cave systems below Turner Sink, just south of Tallahassee, and Wakulla Springs are connected.

Jablonski and McKinlay both currently live in Gainesville, Florida. Jablonski is a dive instructor for world reknowned Global Underwater Explorers (GUE), based in High Springs, Florida, and McKinlay works for Halcyon Manufacturing, a company specializing in making dive equipment.
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Southern states to speed up water deal

Published December 17, 2007
Prompted by an 18-year water war that pits Florida environmentalists and oystermen against Atlanta urbanites, governors from three southeastern U.S. states agreed on Monday to moved up their timetable for reaching a water-sharing agreement.

The governors of Florida, Georgia and Alabama met for several hours behind closed doors with U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and agreed to submit a water-sharing plan to federal overseers by February 15, rather than by June 1 as previously planned. The deal would take effect on March 15.
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Divers Break Record for Longest Cave Passage

Published 12/17/07
But they did more than set a record. Working for the Woodville Karst Plain Project, the divers swam for the first time through the state's Wakulla Springs and Leon Sinks cave systems. Scientists had already proven that the caves were connected earlier this year.

The project aims to map the Woodville Karst Plain, a 450-square-mile (1,165-square-kilometer) region that stretches from Tallahassee to the Gulf of Mexico.

Next the team hopes to explore the cave system south, to its juncture with the Gulf of Mexico—some 8.5 miles (13.7 kilometers) as the crow flies.

It's part of the Woodville Karst Plain Project's effort to map the region's underground cave systems, understand their role in the aquifer, and protect their waters from pollution.
Source

Water crisis threatens Apalachicola oysters

Posted on Dec. 17, 2007
The 18-year water war involving Florida, Alabama and Georgia is also 'Atlanta vs. the world' as the metropolitan area demands more water, which could threaten the ecology and economy downstream along the Apalachicola River.

The 107-mile river, its healthy waters and the shallow and protected bay into which it spills fuel the rapid growth of smooth-tasting oysters, the product of sunlight, river- and ocean-made flesh in the place locals call ''the Last Great Bay.'' About 10 percent of the oysters consumed in the nation and 90 percent of those eaten in Florida come from these waters.

The oyster's filter feeds and thrives with the tide and flow of both salt- and freshwater. The saltwater helps kill freshwater parasites and the freshwater blocks saltwater predators, like oyster drill snails, and parasites. If the water is the life's blood of the critters and economy, its flow is the pulse.

Florida sued, saying the minimum flow threshold of 5,000 cubic feet a second -- 2.24 million gallons a minute -- was too low. That's less than half the historic flow for this time of year, the dry season.
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Monday, December 17, 2007

Apalachicola Mayor on Water Wars

Published Dec 14, 2007
Mayor Van Johnson today called upon the Governor's of Florida, Georgia and Alabama to use restraint when finalizing a solution on the "Water War" controversy. "While Georgia clearly needs additional water for growth around Atlanta," the mayor said, "the Governor's should agree that no further reduction in water flow should be agreed upon or allowed by the Army Corps of Engineers until Atlanta and Georgia have planned adequately for the long term infrastructure needs of growth in the state."

The Governor's of the three states are due to meet in Tallahassee on Monday to discuss ways of resolving the dispute.
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Groups urge Crist to oppose reducing Apalachicola flow

Published December 14, 2007
Environmental groups are urging Gov. Charlie Crist to stand against further reductions in flows to the Apalachicola River when he meets with the governors of Alabama and Georgia on Monday.

Florida officials, Franklin County’s seafood industry and environmental groups say the flow reduction and high salinity in Apalachicola Bay is killing oysters there.
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Friday, December 14, 2007

Divers to traverse cave passage to Wakulla Springs

Published December 13, 2007
Divers who in July discovered a link between Wakulla Springs and Leon Sinks cave systems plan to complete the journey on Saturday.

The Woodville Karst Plain Project divers plan to enter Turner Sink and come out at Wakulla Springs seven miles away. Wakulla Springs supporters plan to greet the divers Sunday after they emerge from decompression.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ocklawaha water has hefty price

Published 12/11/07
Marion County and Ocala officials received an update Monday on the cost of a plan to potentially pump the Ocklawaha River for future drinking water supplies. The price was not cheap.

The total construction costs for a single water treatment plant and 173 miles of pipe to serve 15 utilities in Marion, Lake and Putnam counties was in excess of $811.3 million. Marion's estimated contribution for the plant and pipeline, based on the county getting 21.3 million gallons of water per day, is approximately $158 million. The price estimate had Ocala paying $81.8 million toward construction for 15 million gallons per day.
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Is desal too costly? Let's see

Published Dec. 11, 2007 (Opinion)
Propnents of desalination as a source of water scored a small but significant victory on Monday when water management officials disclosed they will conduct a full-fledged cost analysis of treating and piping seawater to Marion County and its North Florida neighbors.

Ever since the St. Johns River Water Management District first proposed pumping the Ocklawaha River for up to 100 million gallons of water a day to meet regional groundwater shortfalls, river defenders have insisted such withdrawals would destroy the waterway. The ocean, they argue, is a more environmentally responsible solution that provides an endless supply of water and is not that much more costly, while water managers steadfastly counterargue the expense would be dramatically higher.
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Woodville Karst Divers will Attempt World Record Dive of Seven Miles

Published 12-10-2007
The Woodville Karst Divers will attempt a world record dive of 7 miles on Saturday, December 15, 2007. They will enter the cave system at Turner Sink, swimming 300 feet below the ground, and will surface on Sunday, December 16, 2007 at Wakulla Springs. This dive is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.

To honor their efforts, the public is invited to meet them on Sunday, December 16, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. at the pavilion in Wakulla Springs State Park.

The attempt to break the world's cave traverse begins at Turner Sink. When you get to 236 Greenlea Circle, follow the tape to the sink hole.
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Don't drink the water

Published: Dec 9, 2007
At a school science fair Wednesday, Thomas' 10th grade students premiered findings revealing contamination and pollution in the Weeki Wachee watershed, uncovered during two months of research and water-composition testing.

Collecting water samples from three spots on the river — Rogers Park, Jenkins Creek Park and Springs Coast Environmental Education Center — the students tested the water for levels of various elements, including carbon dioxide, phosphate, magnesium, dissolved oxygen, hardness, nitrates, calcium and pH.

A watershed is an area of land that water flows across as it moves toward a common low point or body of water, such as a stream, river or lake.

Much of the 2.4 trillion gallons of freshwater Floridians use each year is drawn from the Floridian Aquifer, a porous limestone formation that traps groundwater.
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Protect seafood industry

Published December 09, 2007 (Opinion)
Throughout the fall, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue had complained that water from Lake Lanier northeast of Atlanta no longer should have to be sent south, eventually flowing into Florida's Apalachicola river and bay. Not surprisingly, the governor cared about metro Atlanta residents suffering through the worst drought in recorded history, not the Florida Panhandle seafood industry that also depends on fresh water to nourish the estuary.

The governors of Florida, Georgia and Alabama will meet on Dec. 17 to discuss these tri-state water issues. Florida has a good case, if Gov. Crist will make it.
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Whose thirst comes first? Orlando, Jacksonville areas face water war

Published 12/9/07
Northeast Florida has launched a campaign to prevent thirsty Central Florida from pumping water out of the St. Johns River.

A growing coalition of Jacksonville-area environmentalists and politicians hopes to shield the north-flowing river from proposals to divert as much as 250 million gallons each day to Orlando-area communities.

The St. Johns looks mightier than it is. Though wide as the Mississippi River in places, the river flows so weakly a steady wind will force it to run backward. Near Jacksonville, tides from the Atlantic Ocean fill much of the river. But that blend of fresh and salt water creates an estuary for shrimp, oysters, crabs, clams and countless other species.

The nearly exclusive source of Orlando drinking water -- the deep-underground Floridan Aquifer -- is now being pumped through wells at the rate of about a half-billion gallons a day.

Extracting more, according to the St. Johns River Water Management District, will run the risk of poisoning the subterranean reservoir with seawater and sap spring flows, dry up wetlands and turn lakes into dust bowls. Those predications so unnerve authorities that they vow to halt any new aquifer pumping by 2013.
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Warm Winter Weather Restores Area's Summer Fishing Patterns

Published Dec 9, 2007
Though there has long been a splinter population of snook in the Crystal and Homosassa rivers in this area, those fish depended on the warm outflow of the springs for winter survival. The Withlacoochee, though fed by some spring-fed rivers, is largely a surface-water river and usually much colder than the Crystal and Homosassa. But that no longer seems to make much difference when winter has become a second summer. Snook, a tropical species, require water temperatures above 58 degrees year-round to survive.
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Lake Munson future uncertain

Published December 9, 2007
Pollution problems have plagued Lake Munson for years, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's refusal recently to pay for a Leon County muck removal project highlighted the lake's ills and its uncertain future

Lake Munson has few plants left in it because of chemical treatments to kill hydrilla and a foreign species of apple snail that has a voracious appetite for aquatic plants.

The lake continues to receive dirty stormwater runoff from Munson Slough, which receives flow from drainage ditches in Tallahassee. There is disagreement among scientists on whether water quality has improved, the FWC said. The lake eventually drains into a sinkhole that flows to Wakulla Springs.
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Corps to send Lake Lanier recommendation

Published on: 12/07/07
U.S. Fish and Wildlife will make final decision about water releases from lake

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Mobile is preparing a letter with its recommendations about reducing water releases from Lake Lanier.

The chief of public affairs for the Mobile office — Pat Robbins — says the recommendations will be sent to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Panama City, Fla., which will make the final decision. He says the letter will outline basic conditions that would warrant a further reduction in the flow of water downstream from Lake Lanier.
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Reduced Flow Won't Alter 'Hooch

Last Modified: 12/8/2007
One hundred and sixty million gallons a day -- that's the additional amount of water the Army Corps of Engineers wants to hold back from the Apalachicola River.

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talks about reducing the flow by two hundred and fifty cubic feet per second they are talking about at the Jim Woodruff Dam at the head of the Apalachicola River -- not at the Buford Dam at the head of the Chattahoochee River.
Source

Friday, December 07, 2007

Suwannee River Wilderness Trail project update

Published: December 06, 2007
Lafayette Blue Springs State Park is one of a number of places along the Suwannee River that are participating in the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail project spearheaded by the Suwannee River Water Management District.

There are five cabins at Blue Springs, which, when completed, will have two bedrooms, a kitchen, a spacious living room with a stone fireplace, closet space for your suitcases and clothing, and a wrap-around-porch where you can enjoy the view as well as the cool breeze. One of the cabins has an elevator for individuals who are unable to enter the cabin using the stairway.
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Groveland won't reconsider pipeline for bottler

Published December 5, 2007
The city will not reconsider a wastewater deal with Niagara Bottling until the California-based company is more certain to open a large manufacturing plant here.

City Council members unanimously voted in October to turn down the deal amid concern that the area's growth already is expected to outpace local water supplies in a few years. For that same reason, council members Monday night opted not to reconsider the wastewater proposal at least until the St. Johns River Water Management District decides whether to grant Niagara a permit to take nearly half a million gallons of fresh water from the ground every year.
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Florida objects to further Apalachicola flow reduction

Published December 5, 2007
Florida is objecting to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to reduce water flow into the Apalachicola River by an additional 5 percent possibly this week.

Prolonged low flows in the river combined with a 5 percent reduction in the minimum flow last month “has wrought compelling damage on Florida's highly sensitive aquatic resources,” Sole wrote.
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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Come on, Georgia, give us some water

Published December 4, 2007 (Opinion)
Do you like Apalachicola oysters? They're almost gone. The east and west ends of the bay are dead. Yes, dead. There remains one bar left, and when it's gone, the oysters are gone. Why? Lack of fresh water down the river. Flows have been below historical minimums for several months, and if your governor has his way, they will be reduced further.
Source

Monday, December 03, 2007

DEP Chief Meets with Residents on Drought

Published Nov 30, 2007
Residents and business leaders say they've seen a 30 percent drop in the number of oysters being harvested, and if more freshwater isn't put into the bay by spawning season in March, next year's oyster harvest will be even worse.

DEP Secretary Mike Sole says the current Army Corps plan has the five percent water reduction lasting through June 1. He says Florida hopes to change that date through talks with the other states. If not, a lawsuit will be their last resort.
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Apalachicola River DEP Meeting

Published Dec 2, 2007
Friday, those worried about the decision gathered in Apalachicola to voice their opposition to the action. Apalachicola resident Linda Raffield said many
feel the impact will affect the entire panhandle region.

"It's hard to look at the people in the community and not feel the pain that they feel with the worry of ‘am I going to have a job tomorrow?’"

More than 100 people concerned with the water levels of the Apalachicola River gathered at the Franklin County Courthouse annex Friday.
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Lower Water Levels Could Mean Lower Profits

Published Nov 29, 2007
The low water level coming from Georgia could mean a drop in profits for businesses all along the Apalachicola River.

Lots of people make their living harvesting oysters in the Apalachicola Bay, others pay the bills by selling them. If the water wars aren't resolved soon

your next oyster meal may not be locally grown.
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River needs its water, Peyton says

Published 12/2/07
Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton weighed in last week on the controversial efforts to drain drinking water from the St. Johns River to help Central Florida.

Though Peyton said he wants to allow the St. Johns River Water Management District the time to finish its research into possibly diverting up to 262 million

gallons of water a day from the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers, he's having a hard time digesting the idea.

"I cannot think of a single scenario that pulling water out of this river would be good for the river," Peyton said.
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Friday, November 30, 2007

River Wonderland

Santa and Mrs. Claus will settle into their log cabin overlooking the Rainbow River headsprings amid thousands of lights during Santa Over the Rainbow from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7-9. Live music starts at 6 p.m. and the merry duo will arrive in a decorated pontoon sleigh-boat at 7 p.m. Santa and the Mrs. also will be there Dec. 14-16. On Dec. 21, 22, 26 and 27, the park will be open for a lights only event. Entrance fee is $1 per person; free ages 5 and younger. 465-8555.
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Water Woes

Published Nov 29, 2007
More than a dozen oystermen met with Governor Charlie Crist at the state capitol. Pointing to maps and explaining how a reduced flow from the Apalachicola River is already hurting the oyster crop, the group is
looking for the Governor to stand up for them when he meets with the
Governors of Alabama and Georgia over the water flow issue next week.

Crist also told the oyster delegation he looks forward to hearing more
from the community before his Dec. 11 meeting with Governors Purdue and Reilly.
Source

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rain cuts Lanier releases

Published Nov. 28, 2007
Columbus received more than 2.5 inches of rain between Sunday and Monday. That rainfall, though it did not affect Lake Lanier’s level, added to the amount of water flowing through the lower Chattahoochee and the Flint Rivers, and supplemented the required 4,750 cubic feet per second that must flow through the Apalachicola River to protect endangered mussels and sturgeon, Davis said.

Davis also said that the corps’ "exceptional drought operations" reduced the amount required to flow to the Apalachicola River from 5,000 cfs to 4,750 cfs. If drought conditions worsen, the corps can reduce the flows to 4,500 cfs and again to 4,150 cfs.
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Water withdrawal issue reaches Council

Published 11/28/2007
The growing controversy surrounding proposed plans to draw more than 260 million gallons of water a day from the St. Johns River and a tributary, the Ocklawaha River, finally reached the City Council on Tuesday.

One project, at the Taylor Creek Reservoir in Orange and Osceola counties, is already being designed for up to a $215 million plant that will pipe as much as 40 million gallons a day from the St. Johns River into the reservoir for residents of Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Orlando and other Central Florida cities.
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Our view: Protecting liquid gold

Published November 28, 2007
Rockledge's water reuse plan latest example of need to save every precious drop

The city is seeking state approval and must first prove the aquifer won't be harmed. But based on growing experience with the process around Florida, officials say the technique is sound and not cause for alarm.
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Local governments ask legislators to protect water

Published Nov. 28, 2007
One week after the Marion County Commission voted down its springs protection ordinance, Commission Chairman Charlie Stone presented springs protection as the county's number-one legislative priority for the upcoming 2008 session in Tallahassee.

On the issue of water supply, the county pushed for the establishment of minimum flows and levels for the Ocklawaha River before plans to potentially pump it for water supply are pushed ahead. Marion County and Ocala officials both urged lawmakers to fund research into desalination plants for the state's long-term water supply instead of pumping rivers such as the Ocklawaha. State Rep. Kurt Kelly, R-Ocala, has introduced a bill that would get that program started.
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City-county Planning Department plans growth meetings

Published November 27, 2007
Tallahassee and Leon County will consider proposed policies next spring that deal with traffic congestion, Wakulla Springs and other growth issues — but the public has an opportunity to view draft proposals beginning today.

One proposal would establish a Wakulla Springs protection zone in Leon County, with additional regulations to protect groundwater within that zone. A study completed earlier this year shows that the Floridan Aquifer in southern Leon County is most vulnerable to contamination due to the thin layer of sandy soils above it.
Source

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River System


Source

Low water levels demand answers

Published November 27, 2007
Lake Sidney Lanier is a big, deep reservoir on the Chattahoochee River. So when it drains, it can be slow to refill without a lot of rain.

Because it can hold 624 billion gallons when full, Lake Lanier plays a key role in a water dispute between Alabama, Florida and Georgia that's been fought in the courts since 1990. Alabama and Georgia want water for cities and hydropower, while Florida wants water to maintain the seafood industry at Apalachicola Bay.

Lake Lanier has dropped 16 feet since early May under a plan to provide water for threatened and endangered mussels and sturgeon in the Apalachicola River. Florida officials say the water also supports the estuary and seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay.

Lanier has continued to drain, even after the Corps of Engineers on Nov. 16 reduced flow from Jim Woodruff Dam at the Florida state line. Georgia officials have said the Atlanta area faces water shortages if the reservoir continues to drain without rainfall.

Lake Lanier sits near the top of the river basin that extends from the mountains of North Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico. Only 6 percent of the basin drains into Lake Lanier, according to the Army Corps of Engineers
Source

River Resolution

Published Nov 27, 2007
The Franklin and Gulf County Commissions have adopted a resolution regarding the importance of the Apalachicola River to communities in Florida. Four other counties could follow. The Jackson County Commission will consider the same resolution at their meeting Tuesday night.

The flow of water coming from Georgia has already been reduced and will probably stay that way through at least the next seven months. That's a time frame some people think is too long because the oyster beds and sea grass are already dying.

The Apalachicola Riverkeeper Organization would like to see any kind of growth in Atlanta stopped so it doesn't create new water requirements while Floridians are being told to cut back. It also wants to see meters on the water for major users in the Atlanta area so there is some way to enforce a reduction.
Source

Franklin County opposes river flow cuts

Published November 27, 2007
Franklin County is calling on Gov. Charlie Crist to oppose reductions in water flowing into the Apalachicola River, and other counties may join in the effort.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to reduce water flowing into the Apalachicola River by up to 17 percent in response to a drought gripping the region. The Corps began with a 5 percent cut in flow on Nov. 16.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is holding a meeting Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the Franklin County courthouse annex to hear concerns about the river.
Source

A River Disappearing: Part III

Published Nov 26, 2007
Georgia's Governor Sonny Perdue has convinced federal officials to reduce water flow from Lake Lanier to the Apalachicola River by more than two million gallons a day.

"We filed an injunction against the Army Corps of Engineers," says Perdue, "To end the senseless relief of 3.2 billion gallons of water a day from our reservoirs."

However, for the people who live downriver, the release of water is anything but senseless.

Conservationist Dan Tonsmeire is in a fight to stop the water reduction.

He says it's destroying the Apalachicola Bay, the nursery for 95% of all commercially harvested seafood in the Gulf of Mexico.
Source

Rivers connect and divide those who depend on them

Published November 26, 2007
Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been fighting in court since 1990 over water from the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. Georgia says the water is needed for more than 3 million people in the Atlanta area. Florida says the water is needed for the seafood industry and economy in Apalachicola Bay.

Apalachicola Bay thrives with a mixture of fresh and salt water and periodic flooding from the upstream river, said Lee Edmiston, research director at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. Without flooding, the saltwater-tolerant predators such as stone crabs, conchs and oyster drills move in to prey on the oysters.
Source

Monday, November 26, 2007

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are designed to preserve and protect Florida's water resources from non-point-source pollution occurring from agricultural fertilization.



Protecting Florida's Springs: Land Use Planning Strategies and Best Management Practices (14 MB, PDF)
Published November 2001

Division of Community Planning - Springs Protection


More Info:
A Guide to Environmentally Friendly Landscaping (9 MB, PDF)

Best Management Practices for Enhancement of Environmental Quality on Florida Golf Courses (2 MB)

Florida Green Industries - Best Management Practices (PDF)

Homeowner Best Management Practices for the Home Lawn

Office of Agricultural Water Policy - Best Management Practices

Silviculture Best Management Practices

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A River Disappearing, Part 2

Published Nov 21, 2007
Georgia's water crisis and decision to reduce water flow from Lake Lanier to the Apalachicola River has had a ripple effect on the economy downstream.

Fishing and tourism in Wewahitchka is now facing its own crisis. Many of the businesses that depend on the river are closing their doors.
Source

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Coalition forms to save Florida Forever program

Published Nov. 20, 2007
Florida Forever, the program that supplies the money to buy and manage state parks and other environmental preserves, will expire in 2010. Then what?

A coalition of grassroots groups are being organized to push for extending the program at least until 2020 to finish the job begun decades ago and to find new ways to protect and manage land.

Over the past 17 years, the state programs have purchased more than 2 million acres. About 30 percent of Florida's land is under some kind of conservation protection: public or private ownership, or conservation easement.
Source

County staff will try hand at revision

Published Nov. 22, 2007
The failure of the Springs Protection proposal to win approval during Tuesday's Marion County commission meeting leaves the resonating question: What happens now?

What happens is the County Growth Management Bureau will pick up the pieces.

It's staff plans to return in January with new regulations to stop the rising levels of nitrogen in the Rainbow and Silver Springs.
Source

A River Disappearing, Part 1

Published Nov 21, 2007
More than 90 percent of Florida's oysters come from the Apalachicola bay. That's a lot of oysters, feeding a $200 million a year regional industry...

Fresh water from Lake Lanier and salt water from the Gulf of Mexico mix in Apalachicola Bay to form the ideal habitat for some of the finest oysters in the world, but like any good recipe, it's all about proportions and Georgia's proposal will simply spoil the stew.
Source

Jackson Blue Spring Sign at North Florida Fair

Jackson Blue Springs Sign
Jackson County is home to more springs that any Florida county west of the Suwannee River. Blue Springs is one of 33 first-magnitude springs in Florida, with a flow of 122 million gallons of water per day. The spring is a magnificant natural resource, providind many recreational opportunities for residents and guests alike, including swimming, scuba diving, picknicking, canoeing and snorkeling for ancient artificats. Blue Springs is also a major tributary to the Chipola River. The Chipola River is the largest tributary in Florida and flows into the Apalachicola River, which is the largest river, by flow in the State!

The great outdoors are awaiting you

Published Nov. 21, 2007
Marion County is blessed with one national forest, two state parks and the lion's share of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a 110-mile green corridor across Florida that was once slated to be the Cross Florida Barge Canal and is now a world-class wonder.

Marion County has not one, but two, state parks. Both are on the Web at www.floridastateparks.com. Ten natural communities, miles of trails and a spectacular view of the Silver River await visitors to Silver River State Park, 1425 N.E. 58th Ave., Ocala, FL 34470, phone 352-236-7148. Admission: $4 per vehicle up to eight people. Come back on weekends to visit Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center, open to the public from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $2 per person.

Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon has the state's fourth largest spring. The headwaters are a popular starting point to canoe, swim, snorkel and kayak on the Rainbow River. Admission is $1 per person, children under 6 admitted free. Address: 19158 S.W. 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, FL 34432, phone 352-465-8555. Tubers launch at nearby K.P. Hole County Park.
Source

Clay wants voice in usage of St. Johns River water

Published 11/22/07
The river withdrawals in particular have been controversial, with some North Florida residents opposed to using the St. Johns to fix what over-development caused in Central Florida.

"We are getting a lot of opinions, negative opinions and we are taking that to heart," Green said in a Tuesday presentation to the Clay County Commission. "Let us make the decision based on science, not emotion."

The studies were prompted by dwindling water sources in some counties, where further withdrawals from traditional groundwater supplies could harm lakes, springs and wetlands. The Legislature directed Florida's water management districts to identify potential water sources, including river and seawater, brackish groundwater and reclaimed water, that can be developed without causing harm to the environment, Green said.
Source

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Agreement in DeBary marina fight means no marina on St. Johns

Published 11-20-2007
After months of litigation and negotiation, with boatloads of money spent for attorneys and consultants, a preliminary agreement made at a meeting in Tallahassee Nov. 15 will allow developer Joe Krzys of St. Johns Partners to proceed with development of Country Estates at River Bend in DeBary — but without a marina.

The environmentalists' major concern has been protecting manatees that travel that stretch of river, between the bridge at U.S. Highway 17-92 and Blue Spring, on their way to the springs. The stretch of river is part of the Wekiva Aquatic Preserve.
Source

Commissioners scrap Springs Protection plan

Published Nov. 21, 2007
The Marion County Springs Protection plan, meant to stop the flow of pollutants into area springs, was scrapped by county commissioners Tuesday.

In a 4-1 vote, commissioners said the proposed ordinance - which would have made residents in the springs protection zone switch to more efficient, but costlier, septic tanks - was too cumbersome and expensive to homeowners. It would have also limited private well irrigation and forced residents to hook up to county sewer services, if available. It's being sent back to staff to see if anything can be salvaged out of it.
Source

County eyes appraisal of Paradise Springs

Published Nov. 21, 2007
The family that owns Paradise Springs, 4040 S.E. 84th Lane Road, plans to sell the roughly 10-acre property and move out of state. There is a local push among environmentalists and nearby property owners for the county, state and possibly nonprofit conservation groups to partner and purchase the property to add it to the Greenway system, 110 miles of wooded recreation trails from the St. Johns River to the Gulf of Mexico.

Paradise Springs is a popular scuba diving spot because of its deep underwater cavern system, which the Floridan aquifer feeds. Curt Chappelka, whose family owns the property, said water bottling companies also have expressed an interest because of the cavern on site.
Source

Florida’s Oyster Industry Drying Up?

Published Nov. 20, 2007
Oysters are a $134 million industry in Apalachicola. But the salty, spineless delicacy is dying off - another victim of drought.

The source of the problem lies 400 miles to the north at Lake Lanier, Ga.

A man-made water supply for Atlanta, for decades it had quenched the city's thirst, kept the rivers running and flushed Apalachicola Bay with the fresh water the oysters need to survive.

Now, with the southeast drying up and the lake's water level a record 18 feet below normal, Georgia wants the spigot turned off.
Source

Monday, November 19, 2007

Save the springs ordinance

Published Nov. 18, 2007 (Opinion)
After three years of bold assurances that Marion County would enact one of Florida's most stringent groundwater protection laws, a majority of the County Commission is balking, and just days before a formal vote on the Springs Protection Ordinance.

Three commissioners, Chairman Charlie Stone, Stan McClain and Jim Payton, have indicated they will not support the ordinance as currently written. A vote is slated for Tuesday. The trio had a change of heart after an Oct. 30 public hearing at which well diggers, irrigation installers and builders railed against the ordinance, claiming it would create financial havoc for their businesses and put a new house out of reach for many homebuyers.

Let us remind all concerned that the intent of Springs Protection Ordinance is just what it says it is. As Jim Stevenson, Florida's "Mr. Springs," famously stated, "Our springs are windows to the aquifer." In other words, when we protect our springs we're protecting our drinking water.
Source

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Water woes continue on the Apalachicola River

Published 11/15/2007
The Water Wars continue between Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Georgia wants to drain more fresh water from the Chattahoochee River that flows into Florida’s Apalachicola River.

“The Apalachicola River is known for having the highest natural bio diversity of any river system in North America,” said Dan Tonsmeire, Apalachicola River Keeper.

But the river is drying up and Georgia wants to drain more fresh water from upstream because of the drought.
Source

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Feds cut water flow to Apalachicola River

Posted Nov 16, 2007
The top federal wildlife agency announced Friday it would cut the water flow down the Chatahootchee and Apalachicola rivers to conserve water supply for the drought-stricken Atlanta area.

Reduced flows likely will kill a portion of protected mussels in the Apalachicola River but not wipe out the species, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in Atlanta.
Source

Cynthia Barnett - Water Presentation


Author of "MIRAGE: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern US" Will give a presentation November 29th at 6:45 pm in room 101 Carraway (geology) Building, FSU campus.

Directions:
Carraway Building is near the corner of Woodward and Tennessee Street. Might be best to park on the NORTH side of Tennessee and walk over. Carraway Building is just South of the Florida Geological Survey building which is exactly on the South West Corner of Tennessee and Woodward. Carraway Building is just north of (across the
sidwalk from) the FSU bookstore/parking deck.
Source: Friends of Wakulla Springs State Park Listserv

More Info:
Author Website

Manatees Return To Blue Springs State Park

Published November 17, 2007
A spokesperson at Blue Springs State Park in Volusia County said 15 or so manatees moved into the spring Thursday. By Friday afternoon, 40 manatees were in the waters, creating quite a show for visitors.

Manatees migrate to the springs when it's cold because the water is warmer there.
Source

Friday, November 16, 2007

Major clean-up on Santa Fe River this Saturday

Posted 11/17/07
A massive river clean-up involving scuba divers and the use of kayaks, canoes, power boats and land volunteers will be held this Saturday, Nov. 10 at the State Road 47 bridge over the Santa Fe River.

The bridge is located a few miles south of downtown Fort White.

All volunteers will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the park located at the State Road 47 bridge that crosses over the Santa Fe River.

Those wishing to participate should call Olson at 352-264-6827 or contact her via e-mail at: aar@currentproblems.org

Source - Google Cache

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Florida Springs - Maps

Complete Florida Springs Map & Guide
FL Springs Map and Guide
Find 91 different Florida springs with a detailed index, overall state map, large insets, pictures and more.

Ordering Info:
FreshWater Publications
2 Market St #114
Chattanooga, TN 37402
(423) 505-3270
Website

Upper Suwannee & Withlacoochee Rivers
(Boating, Canoeing & Recreation Guide)
Upper Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers
Recreation guide which contains a navigational map and GPS readings for park, landings, and river facilities.

Ordering Info:
Send your request, mailing address, and a check made payable to American Canoe Adventures in the amount of $3.65 (for guide + postage) to:
American Canoe Adventures
10610 Bridge St.
White Springs, FL 32096
(386) 397-1309
Website

Lower Suwannee & Santa Fe Rivers
(Boating, Canoeing & Recreation Guide)
Lower Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers
Recreation guide which contains a navigational map and GPS readings for park, landings, and river facilities.

Ordering Info:
(352) 463-3467
FanningSpringsCh@bellsouth.net
Note: You can also order this map from American Canoe Adventures.
Website

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

St. Johns River River Water Management District - Online Brochures

Here are a couple of online brochures that I found on the St. Johns River River Water Management District website. See link below for complete list.

Florida’s Aquifers: Our Most Precious Resource

Source (PDF)
Take a look at the Floridan aquifer, the major groundwater source for north-central Florida, how water gets in and out of the aquifer, the many ways man uses the aquifer’s water and threats to this drinking water supply.

A Green Blanket on the Water: Algae

Explains what nutrients are and how too many nutrients can adversely affect a water body; gives tips on what individuals can do to limit the amount of nutrients flowing to our waterways.
Source (PDF)

St. Johns River River Water Management District - Publications order form

McClain, Payton, Stone favor rewrite on springs protection

Published Nov. 13, 2007
Supporters of Marion County's proposed Springs Protection plan may come up dry in trying to tap enough commission votes to put the new rules on the books.

Commissioners Stan McClain, Jim Payton and Charlie Stone said Monday that unless the proposed ordinance was overhauled, they would not vote to pass the legislation that would phase out traditional septic tanks and require homeowners to replace them with costlier Performance Based Treatment Systems. The commission is scheduled to vote on the ordinance Nov. 20.

Currently, the proposed ordinance would require new septic systems for all new homes in the county's springs protection zones, which include most of the county. It also would require that failing septic tanks be replaced with the new Performance Based Treatment Systems, capable of reducing nitrogen levels entering the environment by at least half.
Source

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rum Island Spring (Columbia County)

Cost: Free



Pictures taken 11/6/2007



More photos

Poe Spring (Alachua County)

Located inside Poe Springs Park
28800 NW 182nd Ave
High Springs, FL 32643

Contact: (386) 454-1992
Hours: 9 a.m.- sundown


Entrance Fee is $5.00 per person – 4 yrs and younger are free


Poe Springs Park was purchased by Alachua County in 1985 and was managed by the NCF YMCA until December 2008. As of February 1, 2009 Nature quest™ is the managing partner of Poe Springs Park™ for Alachua County.


Picture taken 11/6/2007

More Photos



More Info:

http://www.PoeSpringsPark.com Future Websiste - Not Online Yet

Park Brochure (3 MB, PDF)

Blue Springs Park (Gilchrist County)

7450 NE 60th St.
High Springs, Florida 32643
(386) 454-1369

Hours:
Hours are 9:00am-7:00pm from March until October and winter hours are 9:00am-5:30pm

Cost:
General Admission (Daily)
Ages 13 and up -- $10.00
Ages 5-12 -- $3.00
Under 5 -- Free

Click image to enlarge

Map Source

Pictures taken 11/6/07

Little Blue Spring
(Was not flowing at time of visit)

More Photos

Gilchrist Blue Spring (Blue Spring)

More Photos

Naked Spring

More Photos

Johnson Spring

More Photos

More Info:
Blue Springs Park

Ginnie Springs Outdoors (Gilchrist County)

Campground & Dive Resort
7300 NE Ginnie Springs Road
High Springs, FL 32643
Phone: (386) 454-7188

Hours:
General Admission (Daily) 8AM- 1/2 hour before sunset

Cost:
Adults (10% discount to seniors 62+) $12.00
Children (Ages 7-14) $3.00
Children (Ages 6 and Under) Free

All 7 of the springs below are found within Ginnie Springs. Excellent clarity of water. Very nice place to go and visit.

Click image to enlarge

Map Source

Deer Spring

More Photos

Twin Spring

More Photos

Dogwood Spring

More Photos

Ginnie Spring

More Photos

Little Devil Spring

More Photos

Devils Eye Spring

More Photos

Devils Ear Spring
(1st Magnitude Spring)

More Photos

Monday, November 12, 2007

Land Conservation and Springs Protection: Recent Achievments and Big Challenges

On Tuesday November 13th at 7:30 p.m. Fay Baird, Hydrologist and Environmental Consultant, will give program on the state of Florida's natural springs. Plant raffle and social time will follow speaker. Program at Doyle Conner Auditorium.
Source

Springs protection

Published Nov. 11, 2007 (Opinion)
It sounds like a good idea, until you read what the county has in store for us

Let's take the springs protection issue one item at a time. We all want to protect our springs. I don't care what business you may be in, clean water is essential to life, ours and the critters we know live around us. Secondly, those of us who work in Marion County mostly live here. Let me stress that: we care about what goes into our lakes and streams, we also drink the water.

Now let's discuss the proposed Springs Protection Ordinance. It has not been put together with a consensus of the stakeholders. This is really important if we citizens want this ordinance to withstand challenges and also be worth the paper it is written on.
Source

Understanding Invasive Aquatic Weeds

Understanding Invasive Aquatic Weeds

Homework and Classroom Activities - Information Suitable for Grades 4-7

This 16 page booklet contains information and activities about aquatic ecology and five invasive weeds affecting North American aquatic ecosystems. Copies of the book may be ordered, or a file may be downloaded and printed.
Source

Restaurant Allows Diners To Cook For Themselves

Published November 12, 2007
Visitors to DeLeon Springs have the chance to dine in a sugar mill built in the early 1800s.

The Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant at DeLeon Springs State Park opened in 1961. The unique eatery allows customers to cook their own pancakes from a griddle at their table.

In addition to unique dining, DeLeon Springs State Park also offers a freshwater spring with a year-round temperature of 72 degrees.
Source

Video Footage of Divers Connecting Leon Sinks to Wakulla Springs

Published 11/11/07
Last June a group of divers set some world records for cave dives starting out at Wakulla Springs State Park.

They were able to take color videos of this last dive which you can see at the following website. This video is the one where they were able to make the connection of Leon Sink and Wakulla Springs.



Source

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Requiring pricier septic systems is divisive point in springs protection

Published Nov. 10, 2007
The county's ordinance calls for new septic systems that would reduce nitrogen in septic tank effluent by 70 percent, or down to just 10 milligrams per liter.

In contrast, traditional septic tanks don't break down nitrogen at all, said Dale Holcomb, Florida Department of Health environmental administrator. Instead, most of the chemistry happens in their drainfields, where helpful bacteria in the soil and plants break down only about 30 percent of the nitrogen.

But that still leaves 70 percent left to slip dangerously into groundwater and the springs where algae and aquatic plants await their next meal.

The proposed ordinance aims to curb swelling levels of nitrogen in the Rainbow and Silver Springs.

The level of nitrates in the Rainbow River has doubled in the past 10 years and increased five-fold in the Silver River during the past 50 years.
Source

Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida's Oldest Roadside Attractions

The public is invited to join author Lu Vickers as she presents her book, "Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida's Oldest Roadside Attractions."

The program will be at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Deltona Regional Library, 2150 Eustace Ave. The program is free and recommended for adults and children 15 and older.
Source

Water management district to explain St. Johns proposal

Published November 9, 2007
The St. Johns River Water Management District will explain to government boards its proposal to remove millions of gallons of water per day from the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers.

The district says the removal of up to 262 million gallons of water per day is needed to sate water needs in growing central Florida. Alternative water projects are needed so not to cause environmental damage by overtaxing the state's aquifer.

Opponents counter the water removal will hurt the rivers' ecosystems.

The district's executive director, Kirby Green, will speak at the following board meetings.

5 p.m., Nov. 13, City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board
2 p.m., Nov. 16, St. Johns River Alliance at the University of North Florida
2 p.m., Nov. 20, Clay County Board of County Commissioners
8:30 a.m., Nov. 27, Putnam County Board of County Commissioners
1:30 p.m., Nov. 27, St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners
Source

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wekiva: Wonders to wander

Published November 08, 2007
The Wekiva River basin is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise.

The river, its tributaries and surrounding lands offer clear water for paddling and fishing, springs for swimming and tubing, riverfront campgrounds and trails for hiking, horseback riding and off-road cycling - all about 30 miles north of Disney World.

Wekiwa Springs State Park: The park near Apopka has a spring-fed swimming hole, 60-site campground, primitive camping, a 13-mile hiking trail, canoe rentals, horse trails, off-road bike trails and a playground. For campground reservations, call (800) 326-3521. For information on primitive canoe camping along the Wekiva River, call (407) 884-2009. Entrance to the park is $5 per car. Call (407) 884-2008 or go to FloridaStateParks.org/wekiwasprings
Source

Monday, November 05, 2007

Park has quiet ride, native Fla. ... hippo?

Published 11/4/2007
Homosassa Springs a step back to a different era in the state's history

This 200-acre park is 70 miles north of Tampa and 60 miles west of Orlando. And it's not a typical state park. It's a quaint throwback to Old Florida mixed with a hefty dose of evolving eco-tourism.

The place — like many in Florida — started out as an entertainment park with all kinds of exotic animals. In the 1980s when its owners were considering selling the lush land along a clear blue-green spring to developers, the community protested. Citrus County took over the site and then the state picked up management of it.
Source

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Blue Run park closer to reality

Published Nov. 3, 2007
Blue Run of Dunnellon Park is one very large step closer to becoming a reality.

On Friday, the Florida Communities Trust, using a portion of its Florida Forever Funds, awarded roughly $2.2 million for the purchase of 32.5 acres south of the County Road 484 bridge. The land is on the east shore of the Rainbow River in Dunnellon, an area commonly referred to as the tuber exit.

"I think it's going to be great for Dunnellon," Kenny said. "It will help make Dunnellon a destination. It has value to it because it helps to protect our spring shed and the river itself, and keeps it from being developed."
Source

St. Johns water needed for a thirsty Orlando

Published 11/2/2007
By 2025, traditional groundwater sources could come up 200 million gallons a day short in supplying potable water throughout Northeast and Central Florida.

Kirby Green, executive director of the St. Johns River Water Management District, gave that projection Thursday as he described plans to begin pumping water from the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers to combat the projected shortfall.

Green spoke for about an hour to the Northeast Florida Regional Council about a controversial plan to draw 262 million gallons of river water daily in order to quench rapid growth in the Orlando region.
Source

Friday, November 02, 2007

Volusia seeks partners in quest for more water

Published November 2, 2007
Even as Georgia, Alabama and other parts of Florida argue over water rights, Volusia County and its neighbors seem to be taking a far more cooperative approach as they edge away from using groundwater.

On Thursday, Volusia County said it would explore partnering with Seminole County for a water treatment facility on the St. Johns River and/or partnering with Flagler County for a desalination project that would turn ocean water into drinking water.

Volusia gets its water from an underground aquifer, but the St. Johns River Water Management District has required the county to find alternative sources because withdrawing water reduces the flow in Blue Spring and disrupts manatee habitat.
Source

Bouncing around on springs law

Published Nov. 2, 2007 Opinion
Marion County Commissioner Andy Kesselring, the board's leading advocate of legislation to safeguard our major freshwater springs, thinks his colleagues remain committed to protecting the mammoth Rainbow and Silver springs, despite comments at a board meeting on Wednesday that might make the public believe otherwise.

Kesselring remains optimistic a "good" ordinance will emerge from the commission's Nov. 20 public hearing on the long-awaited springs protection law. We wish we could share his upbeat view.
Source

Ocklawaha River pipeline plan with possible implications for area is modified

Plans for a 100-mile pipeline to pump water from a river in Marion County has been reduced to include only the counties that the river runs though, a water district official said.

Just last month, local environmental groups were worried the pipeline from the Ocklawaha River would set a precedent for piping water out of rivers all over the state.

The other counties -- Orange, Seminole and Volusia -- may be able to use water from the St. John's River, Fisk said. The Ocklawaha feeds into the St. John's River.
Source

Sharing the St. Johns Considered

Published 11/1/2007
Water planners say surface water is the short term option to meet the demands for drinking water in Central Florida. The St. Johns River that flows through the First Coast is being touted as part of the solution.

The St. Johns Water Management District is reviewing proposals that, if approved, would divert more than 250 million gallons daily from the river to be processed into drinking water.
Source

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pruette opposes diverting river water

Neptune Beach City Councilwoman Harriet Pruette is wondering why her city is alone in fighting a proposal to divert water from the St. Johns River in Central Florida instead of letting it continue to flow northward to its mouth in Jacksonville.

The bill, which the Neptune Beach council reviewed in a workshop this month, opposes a proposal to divert water from the river near its source, in the DeLand area, to a depleted aquifer in Central Florida. St. Johns tributaries such as the Ocklawaha River could be diverted for the same purpose. The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing the proposal.

Even though Neptune Beach does not border the river, Pruette said the Intracoastal Waterway and its tributaries, which are connected to the river, run through Neptune Beach.
Source

Dunnellon to discuss plans for land use

Published Oct. 30, 2007
Residents interested in the city's plan for future development may wish to attend tonight's Planning Commission public workshop, where the complete package of proposed changes to the city's comprehensive plan will be discussed.

As for the goals and objectives of the future land use ...land within 150 feet of the banks of the Rainbow or Withlacoochee rivers would be limited to water-oriented uses.

The major proposals under this comprehensive plan element include a prohibition against major water withdrawals from the Rainbow and Withlacoochee rivers, a prohibition against degrading wetlands and a prohibition against cutting cypress trees. Also, only slow-release fertilizers would be allowed.
Source

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We Need to Protect Estuaries

Published October 30, 2007
Estuaries, in case the term is unfamiliar, refers to the areas at the mouths of rivers where fresh water mixes with salt water to create a productive ecosystem that is a prime nursery area for marine life.

I stopped at one small spring called Falmouth Springs on the outskirts of Live Oak. Near the entrance was a sign that explained efforts to reroute stormwater runoff from a nearby state highway to protect the spring from additional pollution.

The message on the sign went on to explain that this was a "karst window,'' which is another way of saying this is a direct connection to the aquifer that supplies everyone's drinking water. Contaminate it at your peril.
Source

The tale of two water districts

Published Oct. 30, 2007 (Opinion)
Getting the citizenry and local governments within its own district riled up by proposing to pump the Ocklawaha River apparently isn't enough for the St. Johns River Water Management District. Now, it has irked residents and water officials in the neighboring Southwest Florida Water Management District by suggesting that Lake County should look to the Withlacoochee River and Lake Rousseau as a future water source, even though St. Johns has no authority to do so.

The good news is that Swiftmud officials, after hearing a firestorm of protests from residents and politicians in the Withlacoochee basin, put the kibosh on the St. Johns plan. At an Oct. 18 meeting in Dunnellon with members of Protect Our Waters at Rousseau and other opponents, Swiftmud spokesman Jimmy Brooks reassured those in attendance that the water district has no intention of tapping the Withlacoochee anytime soon, if ever.
Source

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Suwannee River Basin and Estuary Initiative

Click image to enlarge


In response to the growing number of environmental concerns in the mostly pristine Suwannee River basin and the Suwannee River estuary system, the States of Florida and Georgia, the Federal government, and other local organizations have identified the Suwannee River as an ecosystem in need of protection because of its unique biota and important water resources. Organizations with vested interests in the region formed a coalition, the Suwannee Basin Interagency Alliance (SBIA), whose goals are to promote coordination in the identification, management, and scientific knowledge of the natural resources in the basin and estuary. To date, however, an integrated assessment of the physical, biological, and water resources has not been completed.
Source

Suwannee Interactive Mapping System (IMS)
A Web-based Geographic Information System (GIS). It provides geographic data access for the U.S. Geological Survey Suwannee River Basin and Estuary Initiative.

Proposed bottled water plant may take water from Fort White system

Published 10/25/07
The practice of buying a municipality's water and then turning that water into purified water is common practice for the leading purified bottled water companies in the country that use city and well water to make their distilled bottled water.

In fact, Williston just last year allowed a water bottling plant to connect to the city's water supply. The city is making money from the endeavor because the city charges more money the more water someone uses.
Source

As thirst grows, water war looms

Published October 27, 2007
For decades, Lake County -- like most of the state -- has depended on the underground Floridan Aquifer to accommodate a lot of its water needs. But the population now has swelled to almost 290,000 -- roughly 36 percent more residents than just seven years ago -- and is expected to outpace groundwater supplies in coming years.

Central Florida's overall development through 2025 is expected to exceed groundwater availability by up to 200 million gallons a day. The St. Johns River Water Management District could stop issuing new permits for groundwater withdrawals in six years. That could force local governments to come up with often costly alternative sources such as piping water from large regional rivers including the Ocklawaha, St. Johns and Withlacoochee.
Source

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rivers' flows, levels debated

Published Oct. 25, 2007
The future of some of Marion's most significant water bodies set off a lengthy debate between county commissioners and department heads from two water management districts Wednesday.

Officials with the Southwest Florida and St. Johns River Water Management districts brought charts, graphs and statistics to explain the process of establishing minimum flows and levels for Rainbow Springs, Silver Springs and the Rainbow, Ocklawaha and Silver rivers.

Marion County commissioners expressed doubt about whether the two districts' permitting divisions would adhere to these flows. They also brought concerns that plans to potentially pump the Ocklawaha for water started before the minimum flows and levels have been established.
Source

Going against to flow on conservation

Published Oct. 24, 2007 Opinion
Our community's public outcry over potential water transfers, led in large part by the Marion County Commission, has been effective. For instance, state water managers recently backed away from two plans to do just that - one in which water was to be pumped and shipped out of Marion County to Orlando, and one in which water would have been piped into The Villages from another community.
Source

Overpopulation dooms state's finite water supply

Published October 24, 2007
Regarding "Florida should consider tapping freshwater springs" (Oct. 16): Despite "42 years in the drainage and irrigation business," the proposal by the writer to refill Lake Okeechobee by tapping Central and North Florida's "many giant freshwater springs" and building a 50- to 60-mile channel to Lakes Apopka and Kissimmee is remarkably naive and uninformed.

Might anyone recall the construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, which fortunately was stopped in 1971? The writer asserts that the water from those springs "discharge enough pure drinking water into the ocean every minute to fill Lake Okeechobee (and clean it) and to supply all of South Florida." Already, 60 percent of the 7.2 billion gallons of water consumed daily by Floridians is drawn from the same Floridan Aquifer from which most Florida springs flow. That amount is barely exceeded by the combined output of all of Florida's 27 first magnitude springs (slightly over 8 billion gallons per day).
Source

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Florida Springs Related Posters

The following posters are published by the Florida Geological Survey. Although some of these posters are available online I would just suggest purchasing those that of interest through the Florida Geological Survey for a nominal fee. (Details below)

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Florida’s First Magnitude Springsheds (1 MB, PDF)
by T. Greenhalgh, 2003, Color, 25” X 37 ‘. (Poster 12)


Florida's Hydrogeologic Environment (3 MB, PDF)
by P. Bond, 2002. Illustrates the hydrogeology of karst terrane, with rev. text and rev. color, 34” X 22.” (Poster 5)


Florida's Sinkholes (2 MB, PDF)
by F. Rupert and S. Spencer, 2004, Color, 22” X 34’. (Poster 11)


Florida Springs Protection Areas (8 MB, PDF)
by T.H. Greenhalgh and A.E. Baker, 2005 1 sheet (Open File Map Series #95)


Land Use and Spring Protection
by P. Bond, 2003, Color, 23” X 35 ‘. (Poster 10)


Protecting Florida’s Springs
by P. Bond, 2002. Same artwork as Poster 5 rev., illustrating the hydrogeology of karst terrane, with different text. Color, 34” X 22.” (Poster 8)


Springs of Marion County, Florida (3 MB, PDF)
by G.H. Means and D.S.Anderson, 24 “x 36”, 2005. (Poster 14)

More Info:
The Florida Geological Survey maintains a current List of Publications (Information Circular 87). The list includes all formally published publications, a subject index, ordering instructions, an order form and is available in either print or PDF format (digital format).

The print edition is available by contacting the Survey's Publications Office at
(850) 488-9380.
Florida Geological Survey Publications