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Friday, August 31, 2007

Wild Observations: Making a visit to Otter Springs

Published August 31, 2007
The second week in August proved to be another active one for me. One day I joined friends for an exploration trip to Otter Springs. We'd never been there and wanted to check it out. It's a privately owned place north of Fanning Springs. New owners recently bought the place, which has cabins, camping and RV sites, a large covered recreation building, bath houses and, of course, the spring.

The water level is down, but a deep area over a limestone trench offers cool swimming. The clear water allows good views of the rough limestone walls and fish that roam among them. The water runs from the deep part and winds out to the Suwannee. I walked and floated a section of this shallow stream, sometimes stepping on silty sand where lots of snail shells lay, and sometimes sinking into squishy green growth where fish darted away.
Source

Swimming ban on temporarily at state park

Published August 30, 2007
...swimming is prohibited at Florida Caverns State Park. The swimming spot is known as Blue Hole.

Algae is growing on the water and its color is brown. The water is moving so slowly it's not apparent it is. One can't imagine how anyone would want to swim the way it now looks.

"The health department has been testing regularly and up until last week it was okay. Last week the bacteria went up to the level the health department deemed unsafe."
Source

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Inside nation's deepest spring

Published August 29, 2007
The cave system under Weeki Wachee is now regarded as the deepest underwater cave in the United States at 403 feet. A team of cave divers with Karst Underwater Research have pushed the system to that depth during a series of dives earlier this summer.

Researchers still believe the Weeki Wachee cave system is connected to another one known as Twin Dees Spring, located southwest of Weeki Wachee. Karst divers have tracked more than 2,000 feet of passages in Twin Dees Spring, about 200 feet deep in some places.
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Juniper Creek not for novice paddlers

Published August 16, 2007
Juniper Creek is a wild and beautiful place, one of the few canoe runs in Florida where paddlers see nothing but wilderness and other paddlers. No backyard docks. No power lines.

The trip through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness begins at Juniper Springs, where 13 million gallons of crystal-clear, 72-degree water gurgles up from the ground daily before it flows north and east along the narrow run to Lake George. Having made the trip years ago, I wanted to show my family the natural beauty of this canoe run in the Ocala National Forest.

The 7-mile run from Juniper Springs to the State Road 19 bridge at Juniper Wayside Park takes four to five hours. Canoes can be rented from 8 a.m. until noon any day of the year. Paddlers must reach the take-out spot by 4:30 p.m. Canoe rental and shuttle service costs $33.55 per canoe. The required $20 cash deposit for each canoe is refunded when paddles and life jackets are returned. Entrance to Juniper Springs Campground and Recreation Area: $4.26 per person. Call (352) 625-2808 or go online to www.camprrm.com.
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Weeki Wachee Springs turf war still murky

The battle weighs on Swiftmud and the mermaid attraction.
Published July 30, 2007

When the suit was filed in 2004, at issue was whether the attraction broke its lease on the 27 acres it occupies around the spring. The water district argued three main points:

One, it questioned whether the city could legally own and operate the attraction. Two, the water district said it should have approved the donation of the attraction to the city. Three, an illegal "dredging" - attraction officials call it a "reclamation" - broke the lease and harmed the land.

Today, the district still wants answers. The attraction has since completed about $1-million in renovations deemed necessary for safety by Swiftmud.
Source

State senator looks to protect Rainbow, Silver springs

Published Aug. 29, 2007
Marwick, chairman of the Silver Springs Basin Working Group, has spent more than 30 years scuba diving, swimming and boating on this river. Wednesday's boat ride was no pleasure cruise.

Marwick, Marion County Commissioner Barbara Fitos and county and Department of Environmental Protection staff were touring the river with state Sen. Burt Saunders, a Naples Republican and chairman of the Florida Senate's Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

During the next session in Tallahassee, Saunders says there are plans to introduce legislation at the state level to protect Rainbow Springs and Silver Springs here in Marion. He said the measure would be intended to complement - not compete with - the county's proposal for tighter restrictions on development in the designated protection zones for Rainbow and Silver Springs, which cover most of the county outside the Ocala National Forest.
Source

Flickr Florida Springs Group

I invite everyone to come join this new group I created to share their photos of Florida's Springs
http://www.flickr.com/groups/floridasprings/

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wakulla Springs State Park and the Wakulla County Public Library Proudly Present : Reflections Over the Spring

Celebrate Literacy in Florida State Parks at Wakulla Springs State Park on Saturday, September 8th, 2007 in honor of International Literacy Day. Come float over the Wakulla Spring in a glass bottom boat as local narrators convey their special passion for the artful word.

Entrance to the park is free provided you
• Present your library card or
• Present a library book or
• Donate a new or gently used book

The three special glass bottom cruises will take place at 9:00 am, 10:00 am and 11:00 am On a first come first served basis
Source: Doug Jones, Wakulla County Public Library

Monday, August 27, 2007

A mermaid remembers

Tania Samborn swam at Weeki Wachee for two years during the famous attraction’s glory days
Published August 24, 2007

Six decades is a long time, even for a fairy tale land. Over the years, Weeki Wachee weathered fluctuating attendance, competition from Disney World, a state purchase of the land and, now, a legal dispute over whether the town can legally hold the lease land and operate the business.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District owns the land, but the former owner donated the land lease to the town. District lawyers say an incorporated municipality can’t be the holder of the lease. Athanason and others speculate that the district will close the park if it wins the legal battle.
Source

Cloudy water, algae cause concern at Blue Spring

Published 8-23-2007
The collapse of an underground limestone cavern is the likely source of cloudy water at Blue Spring State Park over the past few weeks.

In addition to the clouds of limestone dust that hamper their vision, divers at the spring in Orange City have been complaining about a proliferation of black algae in the normally pristine spring run.

The algae's likely source is septic tanks and fertilizer spread on an increasing number of green lawns planted in the basin that drains into the spring and its underground source.
Source

If the state takes over, the mermaids can stay

Florida officials tour the troubled Weeki Wachee Springs in an 'exploratory meeting.'
Published August 17, 2007

Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials toured Weeki Wachee Springs last week after its managers asked the state to consider taking it over from the tiny city of Weeki Wachee, which has nine residents. That arrangement could solve some lingering problems for the people who have been trying to keep the 60-year-old attraction afloat.
Source

Mermaids and the, uh, scales of justice

Published August 26, 2007 (Column)
Mermaids have been performing at Weeki Wachee Springs for 60 years. At first, they stood along U.S. 19 in swimsuits, flagging down traffic. Then they would run and jump in the spring to do their underwater act.

The glory years were the 1950s and 1960s, when Weeki Wachee gained worldwide fame. Today the place still has a sort of 1960s, pre-Disney feel, which I mean in a good way - a perfect piece of Florida roadside kitsch, before everything got all modern.
Source

State sets limits for how low Santa Fe can go

Published 8/23/07
Robert Baker, who lives on the lower Santa Fe River, is happy that the local water district is working to apply minimum water flows protection on the upper Santa Fe River.

But Baker is not satisfied with the technical report -- a massive collection of data going back 70 years -- that consultants for the Suwannee River Water Management District used to determine how low the flows of the river could go before causing "significant harm."

The results allow for a 15-percent loss of habitat on the upper Santa Fe River.

The purpose of establishing MFLs is to provide technical support for permitting water for consumptive use. The results of the MFLs will affect permitting of water use for years.
Source

Hightower Springs (Washington County)

Located inside park, look for Hightower Springs Landing sign from road,



FlickrMore Photos


More Info:
Florida Springs Database

Springs Fever...

Morrison Spring (Walton County)

874 Morrison Springs Rd,
Ponce de Leon, FL
Cost: Free
Directions: Take I-10 to exit 96, Go South on SR-81 for 3.9 miles, Take a left on County Highway 181 and go about 1.7 miles. Take a Right on Morrison Springs Rd and go aprox 1 mile, the paved road turns into a dirt road (keep left when following curve), follow this dirt road to the end.

Nice spring for young children with sandy beach. However, there is only outhouses at the moment. Soon though as posed earlier this year they have a grant to make improvements to this park.





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More Info:
Floridacaves.com
Florida Springs Database

Florida Geological Survey - Bulletin #66 (PDF)
Springs Fever...

Vortex Spring (Holmes County)

1517 Vortex Springs Ln
Ponce de Leon, FL 32455-6521
Contact: 1-800-342-0640
Cost: $8 per person
Directions:
Take I-10 to exit 96, Go North on SR-81
Park entrance is on the right





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More Info:
Vortex Spring Homepage

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ponce de Leon Springs State Park (Holmes County)

2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road
Ponce de Leon, Florida 32455
Hours: 8:00 AM to sunset
Cost: $3 per vehicle
Contact: 850-836-4281
Directions: Take I-10 to exit 96, Go North on SR-81 for about a mile to US-90, Go Right on US-90 heading East for 0.2 mile, Take a right at CR-181A, Go about .5 a mile and the park entrance will be on the right.

This spring is excellent in water clarity. Water depth around spring is at least 5 feet thus for small children I recommend life vests. Spring flows into Sandy Creek.





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More Info:

Florida Online Park Guide

Choctawhatchee River Springs Inventory... (PDF)

Choctawhatchee River Spring Locations

Click Image to enlarge

Morrison Spring 30.657928611 -85.903931667
Vortex Spring 30.770843056 -85.950056667
Ponce de Leon Spring 30.721214167 -85.930780000
Jackson Spring 30.710866667 -85.928033333
Thundering Spring 30.920800000 -85.890866667
Natural Bridge Rise 30.986750000 -86.207533333
Pate Spring 30.946483333 -85.723300000
Holmes Blue Spring 30.851430000 -85.885850000
Wrights Blue Spring 30.802566667 -85.818891667
Hidden Spring 30.812883333 -85.816200000
Potter Spring 30.523832778 -85.844026111
Washington Blue Spring 30.513258333 -85.847186111
Blue Run Spring 30.514433889 -85.848428889
Weaver Seep Spring 30.891650000 -86.113183333
Ray Hill Seep Spring 30.659480000 -85.957180000
Pleasant Ridge Seep Spring 30.699460000 -86.174820000
Source

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Join SINGLESFocus.org September 15th and 16th for a Ginnie Springs Tubing Weekender!

Published 8/20/07
It's like diving in a big bottle of spring water! Put a face mask on & you'd swear fish are floating in air. The 100' diameter depression is in a 200 acre forest near the town of High Springs, Florida. Campsites, country store & bath facilities are available. Nine springs flow into Santa Fe River. They offer an endless source of fun
floating on tubes above divers exploring the caverns below.

SINGLESfocus.org will repeat its sell-out tubing adventure bringing a bus
load of singles from Brevard County picking up Central Florida singles at
the Altamonte Mall on the way.
Source

Touchy subject: Human interaction with manatees is a hot topic in Citrus County

Published 8/19/2007
The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1983 to protect manatees, has “guidelines” that are unique to Kings Bay: It’s the only place in Florida where humans are specifically allowed to touch manatees.

More manatees congregate in Kings Bay and Crystal River than anywhere else in Florida. That happens especially in winter, when the creatures flee cold water for Crystal River springs, where the water temperature is 72 degrees year-round.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is about to undergo a two-year study to enact a comprehensive conservation plan for the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, of which Crystal River is a part. Kraus said public meetings on developing the plan will begin this fall.
Source (Google Cache Version, not sure what happened to original)

Deal Could Be a Life Raft for Springs

If state were to take over Weeki Wachee as park, disputes would be cleared.
Published August 17, 2007
The future of the mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs could be protected if the state follows through with a proposal to turn the venerable roadside attraction into a state park, its managers said Thursday.

"The state taking over the park would be a good thing, if they want to maintain the park the way it is," Weeki Wachee spokesman John Athanason said. He characterized the visit by the six state officials last week as "an exploratory meeting" and said details would have to be worked out.
Source

Ocklawaha Under Assault

Published August 17, 2007
The Ocklawaha is one of Florida's loveliest clear-water rivers. The 110-mile-long canopied river begins northeast of the Green Swamp and flows through various lakes (including Harris, Dora, Eustis, and Apopka) on its way to the St. Johns River.

The Marion County Commission is understandably concerned about such proposals. At a recent meeting with St. Johns River Water Management District, officials worried about the impact of large- scale water transfers on the ecological health of Silver Springs, Rainbow Springs and the river.

... the state's "Local Sources First" law - which tells communities to exhaust all local supplies of water before looking elsewhere for more - does not apply to surface water, like that of a river.

Public and private water-utility companies have become more interested in the Ocklawaha River (which is joined by the Silver River, fed by Silver Springs, one of the nation's largest springs) because water districts aren't passing out increases for pumping water from underground.
Source

State agency sets standards for water levels

Published 8/16/2007
The first step in establishing minimum flows and levels for the Upper Santa Fe was approved by the Suwannee River Management District Governing Board on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

Minimum flows and levels are used as a way to protect a river from "significant harm," said John Good, Water Resources Engineer for the water district.
Source

Blue Springs water permit may be revoked by state water district

Published 8/16/2007
The Suwannee River Water Management District's Governing Board voted to start the revocation process for a permit issued in Gilchrist County to Blue Springs Properties.

The planning staff recommended to the board that the water use permit be revoked due to two years of inactivity.

Blue Springs is located about five miles west of High Springs, near Rum Island, in Gilchrist County.

There are currently three other water use permits issued in Gilchrist County, including CCDA Waters, the Coca-Cola plant that is permitted to withdraw an average of more than one million gallons of water a day from Ginnie Springs.
Source

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Weeki Wachee Springs is put on a short lease

Published August 8, 2007
The mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs haven't stopped swimming, despite a recent move to a month-to-month lease with landlord Southwest Water Management District

The city of Weeki Wachee owns the mermaid attraction and adjacent water park, donated by the previous owner. The land the Weeki Wachee Springs attraction sits on is owned by Swiftmud, which leases it to Weeki Wachee.
Source

Monday, August 06, 2007

See the Treasures in our Area

Springs in the Volusia-Flagler area, all in West Volusia and all flow into the St Johns river.


Click image to make it larger

















Source

SPECIAL REPORT: Our Natural Treasures- Part IV: Springs

An Occasional series exploring seven of our imperiled ecosystems
Source

Parking lot runoff concerns county

Published Aug. 6, 2007
During a July 31 meeting, commissioners said they intend to send a resolution to the Department of Environmental Protection expressing their concern that runoff from the parking lot - and the oil and chemicals it contains - could be a source of pollution for the springs.

The springs pump out an estimated 550 million gallons of water a day to feed the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. Silver Springs is state-owned land that the theme park leases.
Source

Celebrating the springs

Published August 05, 2007
The inaugural Celebration of Florida's Springs attracted about 500 people to the park, where county and non-profit environmental groups set up booths to spread essentially one message: The spring - and the rest of the state - is changing, in part because of environmentally harmful habits that must change.

Constance Bersok, springs coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Water Resource Management, attended the event to find out what locals are doing and was excited by what she saw.
Source

Weeki Wachee mermaids mark 60 years

Published August 5, 2007
Weeki Wachee, about 50 miles north of Tampa, marks its 60th anniversary this year. Despite an ongoing lease dispute with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which owns the land, it enchants audiences daily, a cross between a campy roadside attraction and a celebration of the exquisite underwater world of the spring.

One of the issues is a disagreement over what Swiftmud calls dredging and the park calls reclamation of sand -- getting sand out of Buccaneer Bay and restoring it to the beach. A faulty seawall that contributed to the runoff of sand has been fixed, Athanason says, and the park paid a fine for not getting a permit.
Source

Two applications for bottled water plants on Santa Fe get extensions

Published 8/2/07
The water proposed to be extracted from the Corbin Trust application at Lilly Springs is an average of one million gallons a day.

The district is also waiting for both the Lilly Springs applicant and the July Springs applicant to provide further proof of ownership of the land.

The request for the additional proof of ownership, in addition to what the district already has, is in response to third parities claiming to own the land, said Jon Dinges, director of Resource Management at the Suwannee River Water Management District
Source

Poe Springs Park to host(ed) Springs Celebration on Saturday

Published August 2, 2007
... 44 million gallons of cold water bubble up from the limestone and flows into the Santa Fe River daily.

The park was purchased by Alachua County in 1985 and is managed by the North Central Florida YMCA. It opened to the public in 1992.

Source

Divers find final link in underground aquatic cave system

Published August 01, 2007
The connection of the Leon Sinks and Wakulla Springs cave systems means the total system is 28 miles long, making it the longest underwater cave in North America.


The majority of the passageway is between 260 and 300 feet deep. It connects vast caverns many stories high, narrow tunnels, sinkholes and springs in the 288,000-acre Woodville Karst Plain. The divers use scooters to extend their range and pre-stage breathing equipment
Source

Sunday, August 05, 2007

County readies for fight over river

Published July 25, 2007
Marion County commissioners threatened during a Tuesday workshop to fight the St. Johns Water Management District and as many as 25 central Florida utilities intending to siphon water out of the Ocklawaha River.

Marion currently uses about 85 million gallons per day, or mgd, of groundwater. A recent water study predicted there was only another 25 mgd left to withdraw before negatively affecting the Rainbow and Silver River springs. The county will need an estimated 203 mgd by 2055.
Source

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Somewhere on the Rainbow

Published July 27, 2007
Located about 100 miles north of Tampa, Rainbow Springs pumps about 461-million gallons of crystal-clear water each day into a 5.6-mile run that empties into the Withlacoochee River downstream at the city of Dunnellon.

Snorkeling is allowed at the headsprings, but only in the designated swimming area. Your best bet is to call ahead and sign up for one of the ranger-guided snorkeling tours.
Source