My Flickr Photos of Springs

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Waste line aimed for St. Johns

Published 7/31/08 The Florida Times-Union
Some environmental activists want to fight Georgia-Pacific's mill outside Palatka, whose wastewater would flow downstream toward Jacksonville. But they also blame Florida's Department of Environmental Protection for making an agreement with the mill years ago that led to a court order mandating the construction.

Building the 4-mile pipeline would let Georgia-Pacific stop discharging into Rice Creek, a much smaller waterway where the plant violates clean-water standards. But it would also mean diluting the wastewater in the river, which flows to Jacksonville.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's time to say no to massive withdrawals from the aquifer

Published 7/29/2008 - The Florida Times-Union
...the fate of the St. Johns and its health has always been secondary to development, jobs and money. It's time to say no more.

Instead of recommending yet another withdrawal from the aquifer, the district staff should be reviewing all consumptive use permits.

Are the numerous bottling plants that suck water out of our aquifer really in the public's interest? Does the state really need so many lush, green golf courses?

Critters wildly popular on license plates

Published July 28, 2008 - Florida Today
The "Helping Sea Turtles Survive" tag has topped Florida's 19 other "eco" plates this year, selling 1,732 countywide through June. But only 34 of the "Trees are Cool" and 18 of the "Protect Florida Springs" plates, both introduced in October, have been sold this year.

BRA Sponsors Fanning and Manatee Springs Working Group

Published 2008-07-30 - Biological Research Associates
Fanning and Manatee Springs Working Group is dedicated to protecting springs and water resources.

With assistance from Biological Research Associates as a sponsor, the Group is working to better the community through information and communication.

For more information about the Fanning and Manatee Springs Working Group, please contact them at (352) 377-8693. For more information about BRA’s Water Resource Management services, please contact (800) 497-9242.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Encounters with Nature in Florida’s Crystal River

Published 7/28/2008 - TransWorldNews
Crystal River is a nature enthusiasts’ paradise abundant with wildlife and offering countless eco-tours. From diving to manatee safaris and manatee snorkeling tours, the place “Where Man and Manatee Play” is an ideal place to be visited by those who seek a true encounter with nature.

Springs Celebration at Poe Springs Park

Published North Florida NewsDaily
A celebration of Florida’s springs will be held on Saturday, August 2, at Poe Springs Park in High Springs.

The Springs Celebration, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature displays and activities designed to demonstrate the importance of Florida’s springs and to foster appreciation and respect for these natural resources.

Parking and admission to the park is free throughout the event.

Poe Springs Park is located at 28800 N.W. 182nd Ave., High Springs. For more information, call (352) 264-6800 or visit http://www.santaferiversprings.com

Mermaid Camp Is A Fantasy Come True

Published 7/28/2008 - Hernando Today
The Mermaid Camp - held mostly every weekend during the summer at Weeki Wachee Springs - has an age limit. No one younger than 7 and no one older than 14 can be admitted.

The camp runs for eight hours each day. At the end, the students give a performance for their families, who watch from the underwater theater.

Tubing down the river

Published 7/28/2008
From Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend, the whole river is open to tubing and the trams are running. Tubes of all sizes can be rented from private vendors outside the park and the best part is that when you are done with your trip down the river, you can just drop off your innertubes at a designated spot and the tubing company will come pick it up for free.

The park has different launching and ending points, and you can choose to raft or tube from anywhere between 1 to 3 hours. At the south entrance of the park, tubers have the opportunity to choose a 1.5 hour float or a 30 minute float on the cool, spring-fed, crystal clear waters of the Ichetucknee River. If you choose to tube the full length of the river for a 3 hour float, get to the north entrance early as only 750 tubers per day are permitted on the sensitive and beautiful upper section of the river. Also at the north entrance of Ichetucknee Springs State Park, enjoy swimming or snorkeling in two pristine springs or take a stroll along the river on the Trestle Point Trail.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fight escalates as Niagara bottling plant prepares to open

Published July 27, 2008
Lake County, Groveland and Clermont are working to oppose the bottling facility, and they could join forces with other governments to block Niagara's request before the St. Johns River Water Management District to dig wells on the plant site and withdraw up to 177 million gallons of water a year.

"Can anyone expect citizens across Central Florida to take water conservation seriously if the SJRWMD [St. Johns River Water Management District] approves a permit for a private company to pull millions of gallons of water from the aquifer to bottle and sell throughout the country?"

Fort White water safe to drink, state toxicologist say

Published 7/25/2008
Toxicologists from the Florida Department of Health did say that "sensitive populations," such as newborn babies, should use bottled water rather than Fort White town water.

The news from the Department of Health comes after nearly five years straight of failed water quality tests of the town's water. The town has been battling fluctuating levels of possibly cancer-causing byproducts in the water, regularly exceeding standards set by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Springs Celebration at Poe still needs sponsors!

I received this via email:

We are still slightly short of our sponsorship target for the Springs Celebration. If you or your organization can jump on board, there’s still time to participate. Please contact me ASAP if you can help. Thanks to all who have contributed. We will be acknowledging sponsors during announcements and on display materials and handouts at the Celebration.

We are in the final stages of preparation for the event, which is coming right up at Poe Springs on Saturday August 2 from 11 AM to 3 PM. Many of you are participating as exhibitors and we’re looking forward to seeing you that day. I did an interview about the Celebration for SKY Radio that will be aired this Sunday at 9:05 AM. We’re doing another interview that will be broadcast next week on WUFT-FM.
This year we have access to the Lodge as well as the pavilion, and there will be food vendors so people will be better able to linger near our red and white Celebration tent next to the Lodge. Music is being provided by 4 great performers: Palm Valley, Patchwork, Dale Crider, and Bob Patterson. Remember, admission to the park is free during the hours of 11 AM to 3 PM, thanks to our friends at the YMCA.

Faye Baird
Pandion Systems, Inc.
352-372-4747 x 3263
New Address as of March 25, 2008:
102 NE 10th Avenue, 1st Floor
Gainesville, FL 32601

Camp Kulaqua ensures land never will be developed by creating conservation area

Published 7/25/2008
...the development rights on almost 200 acres of Camp Kulaqua-owned property that borders the Santa Fe River is being bought via a $1.4 million land conservation easement.

A land conservation easement strips the development rights on a piece of land but allows the ownership and some rights of the land to remain with the seller and its descendants.

The Alachua County Commission approved the purchase on July 8 and now all the two parties have to do is sign the agreement.

Purchasing land conservation easements is a cheaper way of preserving land than if the land was bought outright, Buch said, adding that the easements also allow the preservation of land that an owner would otherwise not want to sell but still wants to protect.

Poe Springs Park should be better used, county says

Published 7/25/2008
Poe Springs Park is "woefully underused" during the winter months and even during many work weeks in the summer, said Alachua County Parks Superintendent Rob Avery.

And that under-usage is costing the county tens of thousands of dollars a year, Avery told the Alachua County Commission on July 8.

Since the 202-acre, county-owned park opened in 1992, the county has supplemented the operating costs of the park run by the YMCA by up to $54,000 a year.

The county will begin advertising the details of the request for proposals for the Poe Springs Park management on July 30.

A mandatory pre-proposal meeting will be held on Aug. 11 for all those interested in submitting a proposal.

The final proposals are due to the county by Aug. 27.

Boaters plan ‘sit-in’ for manatee awareness

Published July 25, 2008
This showed up on my Google Alerts to late to post for the event, but I still feel it's good information.

Kings Bay is a well-known gathering spot for manatees in the winter, but not a lot of people know the large, slow-moving animals are still around in the summer. Unaware boaters and jet skiers often run over them.

Manatee advocate Tracy Colson says kayakers and boaters stopped in the bay for a sit-in from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. saturday to raise awareness. The Save the Manatee Club is providing banners that say, “Please Slow, Manatees Below.”

Dive on in

Published July 22, 2008
The National Speleological Society, one of the leading groups in the area of cave exploration, has announced that Lake City will host its 2008 national convention next month.

The NSS 2008 Convention will take place Aug. 11-15 and bring more than 500 cave explorers to Lake City. This is the first time the national convention has taken place in Florida.

For more information about the NSS, visit their website at http://www.caves.org

Saturday, July 26, 2008

When manatees gather, watch but keep your distance

Published 7/26/2008
Florida manatees swim the St. Johns River and its tributaries all year long. However, they are happier in warmer water, so more are seen in spring and summer, which is also their usual mating time.

The large marine mammal is protected under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. A recent Mandarin Sun story on manatee deaths was on Lordahl's mind as the photographer and local attorney walked along the boardwalk.

Water hogs should prepare to pay more

Published July 23, 2008
Central Florida's two biggest water utilities proposed Tuesday to raise rates for heavy water users, but environmentalists said the hike won't make much difference for an increasingly thirsty region.

Water officials say utilities have long tinkered with rates to guide customer habits.

As a conservation tool, it's probably more effective than any other traditional method.

Swiftmud Gives OK For More Alafia River Withdrawals

Published: July 25, 2008
The Southwest Florida Water Management District issued a water shortage emergency order this week allowing Tampa Bay Water to withdraw additional water from the Alafia River in preparation for the dry season.

The water will be stored in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir south of Plant City until it is needed. As of Tuesday, the reservoir, which can hold 15 billion gallons of water, had only about 4.24 billion gallons stored.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fishing: Jumping sturgeon seen on canoe trip

Published July 24, 2008
One person's adventure when canoing at the Manatee Springs State Park.

We saw fish from maybe 40 to 100 pounds jumping. ...after a rain and the sun came out the sturgeon started jumping.

7th Annual StormCon, the World's Largest Stormwater Pollution Prevention Conference

August 3-7, 2008 Orlando, Florida
StormCon is where you will find the latest stormwater program management and BMPs performance case studies, research, technology, and services–in an unparalleled education and training setting for anyone involved in surface-water quality.
More Info http://www.stormcon.com/sc.html

Georgia official: Why wait for feds to OK water wars study?

Published July 24, 2008
Georgia's top environmental official said Thursday the three states that have battled nearly three decades over water shouldn't wait for Congress to approve an independent study on the issue, but should instead pay for it themselves.

...the states could save time by commissioning the study themselves and splitting the cost. The cost is estimated to be about $1 million and it could take 2½ years.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cement emissions raise mercury in rivers, groups say

Published 7/24/08
A collection of environmental groups warned Wednesday that airborne mercury released from cement factories poses unrecognized risks in states with mercury-rich rivers, such as Florida.

Two plants in North Central Florida already take extra steps to limit mercury releases, said Andrew O'Hare, vice president for regulatory affairs at the Portland Cement Association. Those plants, in Branford near the Ichetucknee River and in Newberry west of Gainesville, are among eight in the state.

Water district must start working for us, the taxpayers

Published July 23, 2008 Commentary
Last week, the water district's staff issued a report recommending that a water-bottling company from California be allowed to drill two 16-inch wells, suck out nearly a half-million gallons a day and bottle it for sale.

Water-district engineers said the withdrawal would have a "negligible" effect on nearby lakes and wetlands. And truth be told, other entities ranging from developments to governments are seeking far more of the precious underground resource. Still, the amount of water Niagara Bottling LLC wants isn't a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Peyton signs ‘historic’ bills

Published 07/24/2008
Mayor John Peyton on wednesday passed an irrigation bill and one that regulates fertilizer use — into law.

Peyton said the algae bloom in the St. Johns River two years may have been the catalyst for the recent regulation. Fueled by excessive nutrient levels, many areas of the river were covered in a fluorescent green scum that threatened plant and animal life.

Makai Kayak & Kanoe Marks First Anniversary

Published July 23, 2008
Makai Kayak & Kanoe, on the section of Main Street between U.S. 19 and the Pithlachascotee River known as the Palm District, is celebrating its first anniversary.

The business offers a variety of guided tours, including half-day paddling trips through Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park. Another gulf-front tour passes the stilt houses between Green Key and Durney Key.

For full details on this weekend's anniversary celebration call 727-232-1823, or visit http://www.makaikayak.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Florida Boat Ramps and Photos Map

I think this information can be very useful for those visiting Florida Springs and Rivers.

EarthNC has worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to make finding the right ramp for your boat as easy as possible. Using information and photos collected by the FWC, they assembled hundreds of Florida Ramp locations in Google Earth and built the ramp information and ground-level photos directly into each ramp’s pop-up window.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Seminole County water board opposes St. Johns withdrawal

Published July 21, 2008
Seminole County's soil and water conservation district passed a resolution last week in opposition to the county's plan to remove up to 5.5 million gallons of water daily from the St. Johns River.

The county's utility is one of 12 in Central Florida seeking to withdraw up to 262 million gallons per day from St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers.

Apalachicola River and Bay Congressional Forum

Posted Jul 21, 2008
More than 50 people packed the Army Corp of Engineers head quarters in Chattahoochee for the areas first Apalachicola River and Bay Congressional Forum.

"The most endangered species in Florida are of the two legged variety, the commercial fisherman working on the bay and the harvester on the flood plain," Dan Tonmeire said.

Fla. to Ga.: Water war not just about mussels

Published July 21, 2008
Floridians upset by the lower flows coming down the Apalachicola River from Georgia made a clear point Monday: The tri-state battle over water isn't just a case of people vs. mussels.

"Georgia's governor is fond of saying this is a people versus mussels issue regarding Atlanta and the Apalachicola River and Bay," said Jeremy Branch, a Jackson County, Fla., commissioner. "The issue at hand is Atlanta's greed and gluttony versus Floridians' necessity and survival."

Florida Springs for the Family

These are the Florida Springs that I feel are the most family friendly in Florida. It is a work in progress. This version is currently .5

View these Springs in Google Earth (Download this KML file)

View Larger Map

PC's top 12 Florida Springs for the Family
1) Ichetucknee Spring, Suwannee County
2) Ginnie Spring, Gilchrist County
3) Jackson Blue Spring, Jackson County
4) Gilchrist Blue Spring, Gilchrist County
5) Silver Glen Springs, Marion County
6) Alexander Springs, Lake County
7) Madison Blue Spring, Madison County
8) Fanning Springs, Levy County
9) Vortex Spring, Holmes County
10) Volusia Blue Spring, Volusia County
11) Silver Springs
12) Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

Note: These springs were chosen based on the clarity of water, and activities to do within the park such as snorkeling, kayaking, tubing and camping. This list might change as I visit more springs in the future.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tubing the Ichetucknee a cool way to spend a hot summer day

Published July 20, 2008 - Excellent Article
Like all of Florida’s state parks, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown all year. The headspring is a National Natural Landmark as formally noted by the US. Department of the Interior.

May through September is prime tubing time, and October through March is scuba diving season.

It is considered the most pristine spring-fed river in the state with 230 million gallons of fresh water flowing daily within the 2,241-acre park.

Concern for profit takes shine off Silver Springs

Published July 20, 2008 Opinion
With the addition of theme parks around Florida, Silver Springs, of course, lost appeal to the roller-coaster enthusiasts. However, there is still a lot that Silver Springs can offer today’s public. The park added a concert venue years ago that brought a major influx of visitors. The concerts breathed new life into an otherwise suffering park.

What kind of management is running our beloved park?

They are Palace Entertainment, a huge conglomerate based in California. They manage a list of various theme parks around the United States. Palace Entertainment, in turn, is held by a company in Spain. These people have no concern to run Silver Springs professionally. They are about one thing: Making a profit.

Guest column: Mayor declares war on crime, continues cleanup of the river

Published 7/20/2008
We have no greater gift than the St. Johns River. The 45,000 jobs it provides, the tourism it draws and the ecosystem it feeds are crucial to the prosperity of our city.

But our river is sick. The algae blooms two years ago were a clear indication of its failing health. The health department labeled 54 of its 71 tributaries as unsafe or hazardous.

For years, Jacksonville leaders have talked about the need to clean up our river. We are committed to that effort and will invest $700 million, along with our partners, over the next 10 years to restoring the health of the lower St. Johns.

Balancing act

Published July 20, 2008 Opinion
By any measure, water is critical to environmental and economic health. Pollute it sufficiently and it becomes virtually useless for drinking and recreation. But entire economies and communities would die if lakes, rivers and oceans were off limits to commerce.

Balance must be the objective.

In a broad sense, achieving a better balance is the goal of a lawsuit filed in federal court last week in Tallahassee by five environmental groups. They sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, contending that the EPA is violating the federal Clean Water Act by not setting new limits for urban and agricultural runoff that fuels algae blooms in Florida waterways.

Jump Into Blue Spring

Published July 20, 2008
As summer heats up, Blue Spring State Park is the perfect place to picnic and cool down.

The head waters of the spring feature wide steps, which are perfect for your dismount into the water. You can just pull up here and sit down. But be ready, it's a balmy 72 degrees.

Scuba divers enjoy plunging into the 110-foot deep hole where clean water boils forth from the Florida Aquifer.

St. Johns staff favors letting bottler tap into water

Published July 18, 2008
California-based Niagara Bottling LLC should be given a five-year permit to take Florida fresh water from the ground for resale, according to a staff recommendation submitted to the governing board of the St. Johns River Water Management District. The company, which is assembling a $15 million water-bottling plant near Groveland, wants a 20-year permit.

State agency has concerns about 'monster pipe'

Published July 19, 2008
Marion County officials don’t want to see their plan to cut down on the pollution flowing to the Silver River through the State Road 40 “monster pipe” turn into a pipe dream. But officials with one state office have concerns the county’s solution could actually lead to pollution.

Meanwhile, four years after Ocala and county officials first started to try to solve the monster pipe problem, untreated stormwater and all the oil, grease and chemicals it carries, from a 2½ mile of stretch of SR 40 starting at Southeast 25th Avenue, continues to flow through the 52-inch wide pipe’s mouth into a creek feeding the Silver River.

Mystery Over How River Became the Big Muddy St. Johns River Sediment Can Damage Underwater Plants and Kill Small Sea Life.

Published 18 July 2008
The dark water of the St. Johns River turned a creamy coffee color Thursday afternoon as rainstorms poured thick sediment into the waterway in downtown Jacksonville.

Turbid water streamed through McCoys Creek and created a plume of muddy water starting south of the creek and reaching toward the Main Street bridge. The spill's source wasn't certain Thursday.

Jumping Sturgeon Strike Fishermen on Yellow River

Published July 18, 2008
Two brothers from Milton were struck by a sturgeon estimated at 5-6 feet long on June 28 in the Yellow River in Northwest Florida while bass fishing. But neither of them needed medical attention

Environmental groups sue EPA

Published July 17, 2008
Five environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency today, saying state and federal officials have done nothing in 10 years to set pollution limits for lakes, rivers and springs that are being damaged by algae blooms.

Huge, jumping fish active on Suwannee River

Published 7/16/2008
The sturgeon that have been spotted jumping in the river are about four feet long and weigh about 40 pounds.

Sturgeon migrated to the Suwannee River in the spring to spawn. In the fall, they’ll migrate back to the Gulf.

The Suwannee River holds the largest viable population of sturgeon -- there are about 6,500 to 7,500 sturgeon in the 60-mile stretch of the river.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Palm Bay project could alter path of stormwater

Published July 17, 2008
It has rained many days in Palm Bay during the past two months, pushing volumes of fresh water into the Indian River Lagoon.

But a project the St. Johns River Water Management District currently is working on would stop the flow of about 60 percent of that water into the lagoon and divert it instead to the St. Johns River -- as happened before engineers dug canals over the last 80 years.

Rain keeps algae away from St. Johns River

Published 7/17/2008
“Algae started out in the end of May or June looking like it was going to bloom a bit, but within the last month rain has made the blooms nonexistent,” said Kraig McLane, the St. Johns River Water Management District lower basin program manager.

Near the Dames Point Bridge in Jacksonville, where salt and fresh water meet, is one area where the effects of algae die-off on fish populations can be readily seen, he said.

Teenagers Learn Environmental Lessons at SEEK 2008 Conference

Published 07-17-2008
Teenagers from across Florida took over the Lodge at Wakulla Springs Park for two 4-day sessions in July. The 2008 SEEK environmental conference attracted 62 high school students from as far away as Miami Beach to the conference’s new home near Tallahassee.

SEEK (Save the Earth’s Environment through Knowledge) is sponsored by the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. Lynn Artz, a member of the Iris Garden Club of Wakulla, has coordinated this annual statewide conference for the past two years. Artz is responsible for bringing SEEK to Wakulla County this summer. For more information, please visit SEEK’s webpage at ww.ffgc.org or contact Lynn Artz (926-8756).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lithia Springs Park (Hillsborough County)

Picture of Lithia Springs Major below was taken 7/14/2008

FlickrMore Photos

3932 Lithia Springs Road
Lithia, FL 33547
Contact: (813) 744-5572
Cost: $1 per person
Spring 8 am - 6 pm (M-F) 8 am - 7 pm (Sa, Su)
Summer 8 am - 7 pm (M-F) 8 am - 8 pm (Sa, Su)
Fall/Winter 8 am - 6 pm

Park Brochure (PDF)
Park Map (PDF)

Alafia River Canoe Rentals, Inc.
4419 River Drive
Valrico, FL 33596-7425

More Info:
Alafia River Paddling Trail (PDF)
Hillsborough County Government Online - Parks

Silver Glen Springs (Marion County)

Picture taken 7/8/2008

FlickrMore Photos

Is the water safe?

Published July 15, 2008
Bacteria, and rarely amoeba, do indeed float around in lakes and other bodies of water that don’t have much movement, especially when the weather gets hot. Sometimes their levels are too high and can be a danger to swimmers’ health.

In the past two decades, there has been an increase in the number of recreational water illness outbreaks associated with swimming pools, water parks, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, and oceans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Progress Energy Nuclear Plants Approved

Published July 15th, 2008
Florida has 5 nuclear plants, but could have 9 over the next decade. A state regulatory agency today gave the go ahead for 2 new plants on the gulf coast near an existing plant at Crystal River. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, it will take at least 8 years for the power to start flowing, but electric users will see a bill as early as next year.

Crystal River is the home of one of the state’s 5 nuclear plants. It’s owner, Progress Energy, will build two new plants on land ten miles to the north

50 creeks laden with bacteria

Published 7/15/2008
More than 50 Jacksonville waterways feeding into the St. Johns River have enough bacteria that a state agency labels them "impaired." High bacteria levels can cause flu-like sicknesses in people who swim or ski in water.

JEA, the Duval County Health Department and state and city environmental offices are working on detailed plans to cut bacteria at each creek, but Seibold said projects such as sewer repairs are also being done before the plans are even finished.

Divers Seek Ancient History In North Port Spring

Published July 15, 2008
Little Salt Spring was discovered to be an underwater archaeological site in the late 1950s.

Archaeologists long have treated Little Salt Spring as an untapped gold mine of ancient artifacts, and the isolated spot is considered "one of the most important archaeological sites in the state, and perhaps the nation, for its wealth of information about the first Floridians more than 12,000 years ago," say officials with The Florida Aquarium.

The sinkhole was donated to the University of Miami in 1982.

Water conservation: Paying more for less

Published 7/14/2008
It's one thing to recognize that water is a precious commodity. It's another to get people to use it that way. And there is one agreed-upon method for utilities to force people to conserve: Change what they pay for water.

Whether it's forced or voluntary, the less water we consume, the less money utilities make.

The water and sewer business has high fixed costs, JEA's McElroy said. Groundwater itself is free, and it's cheap to treat. The expense of water comes more in the infrastructure used to pump and pipe it.

Second Paddle Florida planned

Published July 13, 2008
With the inaugural Paddle Florida event tucked away in the books, organizers have announced that a second paddle tour along the majestic Suwannee River has been scheduled for November.

Registration for the 93-mile kayak and canoe tour is currently under way.

The weeklong adventure along the Suwannee begins Nov. 8 at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and will conclude Nov. 15 at Ivey Memorial Park in Branford. The trek takes place nine months after the inaugural event in March.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer rains already fall short of averages

Published in print July 13, 2008
Rivers have recovered somewhat, but they are still below average. Stream flow readings on the Withlacoochee River near Trilby during May were among the lowest recorded levels historically. The river was healthier in June, but stream flow is still below the low end of the normal range.

While aquifer and river levels have improved compared to last year, lake levels are getting worse. In June, lake levels in Swiftmud's north district on average were 4.45 feet below the low end of the normal range, down from 4.44 feet in May and 4.43 feet in June 2007.

That means lakes are vanishing, leaving docks that end several feet before the shoreline and waterfront homes that no longer sit on water.

Fresh or salt, water lures us

Published July 11, 2008
...here are some suggestions for enjoying the great outdoors in Hernando.

Rogers Park
7244 Shoal Line Blvd.
Summer hours are sunrise to sunset. Parking is $2 per car.
Visit http://www.co.hernando.fl.us/parks_rec or call Call (352) 754-4027.

Although primarily known for providing boating access to the Weeki Wachee River, the 3-acre Rogers Park has a nice freshwater swimming and beach area that is set aside from boat-launching sites.

Buccanneer Bay at Weeki Wachee Springs
U.S. 19 and State Road 50, Weeki Wachee. Daily summer hours though Aug. 17 are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (352) 596-2062 or visit http://www.weekiwachee.com

Billed as Florida's only spring-fed water park.
Impeccably maintained with white sandy beaches, flume rides, a beach volleyball area and a large kiddie pool, it's got everything you need for a fun family day — for a price. Cost is $24.95 for adults and $16.95 for kids 3 to 10, plus tax, and includes admission to the historic Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid attraction.

Canoeing and kayaking
Nobleton Outpost
29295 Lake Lindsey Road (CR 476), 12 miles northeast of Brooksville. Outpost is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Monday (currently closed through July 18).
Call (352) 796-7176 or visit http://www.nobletonoutpost.com

Those with a taste for small adventures can take a leisurely two- to four-hour canoe or kayak ride down the Withlacochee River using either your own vessel or one of the outpost's. The Nobleton Outpost is a laid-back place that welcomes pets and motorcycles. There's even a friendly little pub/cafe on the premises that serves great inexpensive seafood, Cuban sandwiches and salads. Canoe and kayak rentals run from $35 to $45.

Weeki Wachee Canoe and Kayak Rentals
behind the Weeki Wachee Springs attraction, U.S. 19 and State Road 50. Daily launches are from 9 and 11:30 a.m. during the week and from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on weekends. Call (352) 597-0360 or visit http://www.floridacanoe.com

A tad more challenging than its counterpart on the east side of the county, the Weeki Wachee River flows with the gusto of 64-million gallons of crystal clear water every day, making the 7-mile journey downstream a joyous three-hour journey through rare pristine wilderness. Cost is $52 for a two-person canoe or kayak and $37 for a one-seater, and includes pickup. If you want to launch your own vessel, it's $10 per boat, and you have to find your own way off the river.

Nobleton Wayside Park
29061 Lamkin Drive. Hours are sunrise to sunset. Call (352) 754-4027 or visit http://www.co.hernando.fl.us/parks_rec

Here's a way to do your kayaking or canoeing on the cheap. A free boat ramp gives you access to the Withlacoochee River and a 13-mile journey through the neighboring Withlacoochee State Forest, where you will see an abundance of wild critters and birds. Afterward, you can come back to the 2-acre park and enjoy a quiet lunch under one of the shelters.

Boating and Fishing
Jenkins Creek Park
6401 Shoal Line Blvd. (about 5 miles west of U.S. 19), north of Hernando Beach. Hours are sunrise to sunset. Call (352) 754-4027 or visit http://www.co.hernando.fl.us/parks_rec

The main attraction at this park, in the middle of one of Hernando County's prime fishing areas, is the natural freshwater springs that feed into canals and coastal marshes leading to the Gulf of Mexico. Shallow areas in and around the park are the perfect habitat for crabs and baitfish. Boaters should be aware that the tiny 1-acre park is limited to small boats, personal watercraft and canoes.

River cleanup will be costly

Published 7/12/2008
A landmark plan to sharply cut pollution in the St. Johns River in Northeast Florida is nearly ready. But carrying it out will cost more than $500 million, and potentially well over $1 billion, environmental administrators say.

The cutbacks are needed to meet the Federal Clean Water Act, written in the 1970s but only being enforced belatedly and after a court fight over exactly what the law requires.

In theory, more than 25 percent of the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous flowing into the river would be cut. Those chemicals feed algae, which has been choking grass beds and harming areas where fish live.

Lake County water officials file petition to protect water flows, levels

Published July 12, 2008
The Lake County Water Authority is taking legal action in its fight to protect the Harris Chain of Lakes from Central Florida's looming water shortage.

It is trying to force the St. Johns River Water Management District to set minimum water levels on the chain before allowing Apopka to draw water from Lake Apopka to meet their needs.

The water-management district wants to allow Apopka to withdraw up to 1.8 billion gallons of water a year from Lake Apopka to use mostly for lawn irrigation in that city.

Officials brainstorm on economic benefit of river basin

Published: July 9, 2008
...nearly two dozen people who gathered in Bainbridge, Ga., on to discuss the economic importance of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system.

With major highways across the Southeast already crowded with tractor trailers and the railroad industry left with its own challenges, navigation through the river basin will be the key to sustaining the economy in the Southeast, Moorer said. The development of the river basin could lead to not only industrial benefit, but recreational benefit too, including more marinas in areas like Eufaula and Bainbridge, Ga.

We think: It's outrageous that Wekiwa Springs is being sacrificed

Published July 10, 2008 (Editorial)
The algae's toxins might give the governor hives, rashes and other skin irritations. But years from now, the pollutants could turn the springs into an algae-choked retention pond -- the death knell for wildlife and the springs as a destination for all the people who today enjoy it.

But a gubernatorial leap into the political muck that's keeping Wekiwa Springs and many of the state's 700-odd springs from a clean future would benefit Florida more than the governor actually submerging himself in them.

With the input of staff from the DEP, DOH officials had forged a rule requiring new homes built near the Wekiva River basin that aren't on sewer lines to install high-tech septic systems that remove nitrogen better than traditional septic systems. Owners of older houses whose septic tanks fail also would need to install the advanced systems.

What happened?

DOH and DEP officials keep, well, watering down the rule. They haven't enacted it. But before doing so, they'd better improve it, and quickly.

Sturgeon collides with boat on Suwanne River

Published July 9, 2008
A boat riding along the Suwannee River Saturday had a three foot Sturgeon jumped into the family's boat. It did not hurt anyone inside the boat.. just a little damage to the boat itself

Group may join St. Johns study

Published July 09, 2008
A study of the possible environmental impact of taking water from the St. Johns River for use in Central Florida homes and cities may get a national partner.

Officials with the St. Johns River Water Management District said Tuesday the highly regarded National Research Council is considering providing the peer review for the district's river study.

A two-day meeting is scheduled for September to allow the experts working on the study to review the work done so far and to allow the public to hear about the work and comment.

Florida conservationist braves gators to explore the St. Johns River

Published July 8, 2008
...starting south of Blue Cypress Lake and ending at the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville more than 300 miles away. Thatcher made the journey between February and April, in an adventure that included a close encounter with alligators, near misses with airboats and stampeding cattle, getting lost and making friends with a host of river dwellers

...Thatcher could be the first person to kayak the entire river, experts said.

All this, she says, is in the name of exposing people to the river, one of 14 designated as American Heritage Rivers by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The river was the first in North America to be settled by Europeans and is one of a few in the nation that flow north.

Orlando-area members of Congress pick their pet projects for budget

Published July 8, 2008
...including $5.6 million sought by U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, to buy land near Three Sisters Springs, a manatee home in west-central Florida.

Nature Coast Visitors Guide now available

The full color magazine is available free of charge at area business’ and the office of the South Marion Citizen in Kingsland Plaza. It has numerous ideas for what to do for summer fun, including tubing on the Rainbow River in Dunnellon and crab fishing anyplace on our coast.

Find where to rent a kayak (and a guide, too, if you need one), where some of our famous springs are located, or where to eat a leisurely dinner.

Nature Coast Visitors Guide is a quarterly publication of the South Marion Citizen.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Residents, Officials Become Family To Save Three Sisters Springs

Published July 7, 2008
In an inspiring display of cooperation, environmentalists, everyday folks and public officials are working to save Three Sisters Springs, a natural jewel in Citrus County, from a planned housing development on surrounding land.

If enough money can be raised from private and public sources, the springs, on Kings Bay, will be placed into public ownership, allowing residents and visitors to enjoy a natural wonder and, more important, protecting drinking water supplies and the manatees that flourish there.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Summer storms each day keeps algae at bay

Published 7/6/2008
Summer storms that are soaking Northeast Florida also may be holding down algae on the St. Johns River, but a water manager said blooms could still pop up any day.

Northeast Florida's algae generally comes in two varieties, tiny blue-green types that can look like paint floating on the water, and larger plant-like types that anchor themselves on underwater grass and other targets just below the water's surface.

This year, researchers are finding far more blue-greens, which are more likely to produce toxins.

Some in Lake County ask: Would new water rules go too far?

Published July 5, 2008
But a St. Johns River Water Management District proposal to limit watering to once a week from November through March and no more than three-fourths of an inch each time leaves Laratta and other Lake County residents puzzled.

"Is it enforceable? Because if it's not enforceable, why add more rules," Laratta said. "You're trying to regulate conservation with difficult rules."

Some in the audience asked why the St. Johns is putting in stricter rules at a time when it's also considering a request by Niagara Bottling LLC to suck 177 million gallons of fresh water out of the ground from Lake County every year to package it and sell it.

Beware the blobs at Orlando-area springs

Published July 5, 2008
Visitors hoping to chill out in a Florida spring this summer are likely to have a similar moment of revulsion. Many of the state's springs have been invaded by algae in recent years, an infestation that could prove nearly impossible to get rid of.

The algae, which comes in vivid-green, black and oozing varieties, could be giving swimmers rashes and other skin ailments. That's a possibility health authorities are trying to figure out. But it doesn't take a scientist to know the springs are suffering.

Jerry Brooks, the state's director of environmental restoration, said Florida is working to keep treated sewage from contaminating springs. But at least 80 percent of Florida springs that have been tested have elevated nutrients. "I think we are losing ground," Brooks said

Ocala National Forest has plenty to offer

Published July 6, 2008
The Ocala National Forest ranks among the top 10 national forests in the country for use, drawing an estimated 2.9 million visitors a year. Eight million people - more than half Florida's 13 million people - live within an hour's drive of the Forest.

One popular site, Salt Springs, offers campers full hook-ups for about $23.45 a day, less for seniors with an access pass. People who want to go swimming for the day pay $4 per person. Snorkeling is allowed, and there are canoe and boat rentals at the marina.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Water hyacinth flourishes on part of Santa Fe River

Published 7/4/2008
Water hyacinth grows faster then any other vascular plant studied, sometimes doubling its population in just six days, according to University of Florida's IFAS center.

Most of the Santa Fe River is doing just fine considering the drought, but a stretch of the river near Boat Ramp Road is covered in water hyacinth because the state has been unable to spray in that area, said Joe Hinkle with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Invasive Plant Management.

"The water is low and the air boats can't get in to spray," Hinkle said. "...our contractors are not going to tear up their equipment to do that area."

Jim Wood, owner of Santa Fe Canoe Outpost, and Lars Andersen, owner of Adventure Outpost, both said they would rather let nature take its course than have the state come in and spray more chemicals.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Weeki Wachee wonderland

Published 7/4/2008
For 60 years, young women wearing fish tails have performed an underwater act in these turquoise waters. Today's grand finale features Mermaid Stacey. Families pack the viewing area as Mermaid Stacey dives deep down into the freshwater spring.

The water park is really the bread and butter, it's the financial stability of this park. It's everything, from a financial standpoint, that keeps Weeki Wachee afloat.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Farms' water-saving practices can help homeowners be more efficient

Published July 2, 2008
Proven practices that enabled farmers to curb water consumption and reduce pollution have additional application for others, including Florida's homeowners, a top official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

Federal and state officials honored 29 farms from Jefferson, Madison, Lafayette, Hamilton and Suwannee counties that participate in the program CARES — the County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship.

CARES was developed by the Suwannee River Partnership and Florida Farm Bureau to promote the efforts of area farmers and ranchers in sustainable farming practices that conserve energy, save water and prevent pollution.

Have your say about Lake County lawn-watering limits

Published 7/2/2008
Central Florida's water woes are expected to grow worse because of a growing population.

To conserve the precious resource, the St. Johns River Water Management District is proposing to limit watering to once a week from November through March and no more than three-fourths of an inch each time.

During the other months of the year, watering would continue to be allowed twice a week -- the days depending on address numbers -- but no more than half an inch of water on each of those days.

On Thursday, residents can learn about the new irrigation proposal and give their opinion about it during a workshop at 10 a.m. in the Lake County Commission chambers at the round courthouse, 315 W. Main St., Tavares.

Rowing the St. Johns, disabilities float away

Published 7/2/2008
Jacksonville University and Brooks Rehabilitation have teamed up to offer an adaptive rowing program for people with disabilities. Participants train at the Negaard Rowing Center on JU's campus as form of physical and psychological therapy.

Alice Krauss, manager of Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation, said sports are a great way to keep muscles strong, make new friends and combat depression.

JU rowing coach Jim Mitchell said there's not much different about rowing with a disability. Besides using legs and stomach muscles to perfect a stroke, he said there's not much disabled competitors can't do.

Water bottlers protected by U.S. Constitution

Published July 2, 2008
Florida Rep. Debbie Boyd (D-Newberry) said communities cannot stop a company from bottling water out of the Santa Fe River or elsewhere, just because it is a water-bottling company.

The U.S. Constitution prevents communities from discriminating against a business based on the type of business it is, Boyd said, but there can be restrictions on all businesses through zoning regulations.

The Suwannee River Partnership formed in 1999 and brought together residents, farmers, scientists, environmental specialists and business owners to work toward a common goal — protecting the natural resources in the Suwannee River Basin.

Reduction of nitrogen leaching into the aquifer has been achieved through the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs), the agricultural leaders said. Through BMPs, farmers also have saved a billion gallons of water in the Suwannee River Basin each crop season year, Hoblick said.

Scuba accident victim's coma now considered irreversible

Published 1 July 2008
The coma that enveloped Shannon Leigh Lewis, one of Austin's most honored spoken-word poets, turned irreversible Monday. She had entered the coma after a June 14 cave diving accident near Ginnie Springs, Florida.

According to multiple reports, Lewis, an experienced diver, was swimming with two other divers, returning alone to the entrance of the cave because of an equilibrium problem. A diving instructor from another group discovered her unconscious. She was brought her to the surface with the help of another diver.

Renowned 20-year-old poet Shannon Leigh was critically injured in a scuba diving accident at Florida's Ginnie Springs. Doctors now consider her to be in an irreversible coma.

"Recreation diving and cave diving are apples and oranges," said Dan Misiaszek, retired dive recovery commander with San Marcos Area Recovery Team. "Cave diving requires specialized training and equipment. Even with the proper training and equipment, things can still go wrong."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Crist Protects Land Trust, Seagrass

Published: July 1, 2008
A massive program for buying conservation land that started two decades ago has been extended for 10 more years.

Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill Monday to continue the program now known as Florida Forever until at least 2018. The land-buying program would have ended in 2010 if lawmakers failed to pass the measure this spring.

GPS Coordinates of Freshwater Boat Ramps

I hope some people might find this useful, I've obtained the GPS Coordinates of the Freshwater Boat Ramps that are listed on the Florida Wildlife Commission website located at http://myfwc.com/boating/access/ramps/

Florida Freshwater Boat Ramps Microsoft Excel Format

Dept of Environmental Protection Workshop on Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

The Department of Environmental Protection announces a workshop to which all persons are invited.

DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, July 9, 2008, 1:30 p.m.
PLACE: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bob Martinez Center, Room 609, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Notice of a public workshop and public comment period on draft total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for the St. Marks/Ochlockonee Basins. The TMDLs to be presented at the public workshop are for the Black Creek (fecal coliform), Juniper Creek (fecal coliform), Juniper Creek (dissolved oxygen), Swamp Creek (fecal coliform), and Munson Slough (fecal coliform), and Munson Slough/Lake Munson (nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity).

The public workshop is being held pursuant to Section 403.067(6)(d), Florida Statutes, which requires the Department to hold at least one public workshop in the vicinity of the waterbody or waterbody segment for which a TMDL is being developed. TMDL calculations and allocations for each waterbody or waterbody segment will be adopted by rule, by the Secretary of the Department, pursuant to Sections 120.536(1), 120.54 and 403.805, Florida Statutes. The public workshop is part of the TMDL development and adoption process, as authorized by Section 403.067, Florida Statutes, and anyone wishing to comment as to the development and adoption of the TMDLs is encouraged to attend.

The draft TMDL document(s) for the St. Marks/Ochlockonee Basins will be placed on the Department’s TMDL website(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl) by June 20, 2008, and will be provided upon request to interested parties by mail or via e-mail distribution. To request a copy of any of the draft TMDL documents, contact: Jan Mandrup-Poulsen jan.mandrup-poulsen@dep.state.fl.us at the mailing address below or call (850)245-8448. The Department will accept written comments on the draft TMDLs through July 20, 2008, or for 30 days after they are posted, whichever date is later. The purpose of the comment period is to provide an opportunity for public participation in lieu of, or in addition to, participation in the public workshop on the draft TMDLs. Any and all written comments should be directed to: Jan Mandrup-Poulsen, Environmental Administrator, Watershed Assessment Section, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Mail Station 3555, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400. Written comments may also be provided by e-mail directed to: jan.mandrup-poulsen@dep.state.fl.us.

A copy of the agenda may be obtained by contacting: Ms. Pat Waters, Watershed Assessment Section, MS 3555, Department of Environmental Protection, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400, or by calling (850)245-8449. Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this workshop/meeting is asked to advise the agency at least 48 hours before the workshop/meeting by contacting: Ms. Pat Waters at (850)245-8449. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service, 1(800)955-8771 (TDD) or 1(800)955-8770 (Voice).
Source pg 89 (PDF)

Big part of Ichetucknee River free of invasive species

Published 6/27/2008
Water lettuce, is one of the most invasive plants in Florida and indeed the world.

The plant that can cover a waterway from shore to shore, choking all life underneath and blocking swimmers, tubers and canoeists, is even illegal to posses in Florida without a special permit.

Cathy Nagler, biologist at Ichetucknee Springs State Park, remembers a day when she and a flank of volunteers pulled more than two tons of water lettuce out of the Ichetucknee River in just one day, on just one tiny section of the river.

Today, she may collect just a bucket or two of the invasive species.

Nagler has worked with Ichetucknee Springs State Park Biologist Sam Cole and 1,750 volunteers to do the nearly impossible -- successfully remove 72 tons of water lettuce from the Ichetucknee River.

And they did it all by human power, with rakes and with their hands.

Controlling an invasive species like water lettuce on such a large scale without spaying herbicides is almost unheard of, experts said, and this project may be the biggest one ever.

More Info:
Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection - Bureau of Invasive Plant Management
University of Florida, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

To obtain a permit to manually pull water lettuce, call Joe Hinkle, with the Florida Department of Environment Protection, Bureau of Invasive Plant Management, at 386-758-0464.

Fanning Springs

Recently I saw information in the news and subsequently posted information about how Fanning Springs no longer emits enough water to be categorized a first-magnitude spring. I contacted Tom Greenhalgh at the Florida Geological Survey in regards to this to get further information. Below is some of the information that I received.

Fanning Springs is now a “historical” first magnitude spring. The median discharge value is now being used for classification (Copeland, R.E., comp. 2003. Florida Spring Classification System and Spring Glossary Tallahassee: Florida Geological Survey, Special Publication no. 52, 17 pp. - PDF) not, classifying any spring with a historical discharge measurement that exceeded 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) as a first magnitude spring. Discharge data in Fanning Springs between 1997-2008 had a median discharge of 71.38 cfs.

Most springs have only a limited number of historical discharge measurements. Now, with real-time discharge measurements being collected at some springs we are obtaining daily discharge measurements. I recently compiled the available discharge data for Fanning Springs and have provided preliminary statistical results from Dr. Rick Copeland for you below. Duplicate measurements in the dataset were not eliminated. Also, there is some debate on whether Fanning Springs backflows.

1. There is a near natural break in discharge at the end of December 1998 and January 1999.

2. Flow from October 1930 through December 1998 (68 years)
Mean = 104 cfs (discharge)
Median = 108 cfs (discharge)
Max = 188 cfs (discharge)
N (no. of samples) = 23

3. From January 1999 through June 9, 2008
Mean = 65 cfs (discharge)
Median = 69 cfs (discharge)
Max = 247cfs (discharge)
N = 2646

4. Of 2464 daily measurements (including dupes) since January 1, 1999, 136 measurements were negative. That is surface water flowed into Fanning Spring
Mean = 54 cfs (recharge)
Median = 62 cfs (recharge)
Max = 108 cfs (recharge)
N = 136

The Florida Geological Survey does not have a publication planned that will reclassify the first magnitude springs based on the 2003 definition and currently available discharge data.

If you have additional comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

Tom Greenhalgh, P.G.
Florida Geological Survey
Hydrogeology Section
Department of Environmental Protection
903 West Tennessee Street MS#720
Tallahassee, Florida 32304-7700

Related Info:
Excerpts from editorials in Florida newspapers
Nelson wades into watery woes