My Flickr Photos of Springs

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wild things: 10 amazing places to show kids exotic animals

Posted 10/25/09 - Miami Herald
Manatees. You don't have to leave Florida to see exotic animals -- and they're not all in theme parks. About 500 of the state's 3,900 manatee population live at Crystal River National Marine Wildlife Refuge, 60 miles north of Tampa, where kids of all ages can snorkel with the friendly 800-pounders. Though the endangered creatures are protected against hunting and harassment, low-impact snorkel tours are offered by Bird's Underwater Manatee Tours (year-round; $35 plus $8 snorkel rental; www.birdsunderwater.com), Florida Manatee Tours (year-round; $49.50 including gear and lunch; www.floridamanateetours.com) and others. Learn more at www.savethemanatee.org

Monday, October 19, 2009

Marion roadways recognized as National Scenic Byways

Published October 19, 2009 - Ocala.com
Members of the Corridor Management Entity already have plans in place for a wide array of regional improvements and are only waiting for funds to become available.

The projects include designing a trailhead near Juniper Springs, expanding the Ocklawaha Visitors Center on CR 315, creating a bike trail from Silver Springs to the Ocklawaha River, building information kiosks and adding wildlife crossings along SR 40 and SR 19, where more bears are reportedly struck and killed by cars than anywhere else in the state.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Federal Water Rules Could Hurt Fla.

Published October 16, 2009 - TheLedger.com
This crisis stems from a lawsuit filed by the group EarthJustice, which is demanding stringent new one-size-fits-all standards governing the level of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphate in all Florida waterways. Driven by litigation rather than sound science, these regulations could be imposed as early as October 2010 - disrupting Florida's existing science-based process for protecting and restoring the quality of Florida's waters.

Should Groveland, Lake Co. Pay Niagara’s Legal Fees?

Published October 16, 2009
Taxpayers in the city and Lake County could be forced to shell out even more money in the fight with a water bottling company.

Niagara Bottling said their legal fees and costs are between $2 million and $4 million, and the company said Groveland and Lake County should have to cover their expense.

Manatee refuge puts river flow project on hold

Published October 16, 2009 - Tampa Bay Online
One of the spots where manatees are known to congregate is Sulphur Springs Park, where temperate water from an underground artesian spring flows into the river.

Tampa also relies on the spring, but for a different reason. The city has, for decades, pumped water from the spring to the Rowlett Park dam to supplement the millions of gallons a day it takes from the river to provide drinking water for its huge population.

The Sulphur Springs project calls for modifying the series of barriers the city has to prevent brackish tidal water from entering the spring to compensate for increasing the amount of fresh water the city plans to pump back up river below the dam.

Experts address future of water supply

Published October 16, 2009
Part of seeing that no harm comes to water resources in determining minimum flows and levels for rivers and lakes. Still said a 2007 study looking at minimum flows and levels found there was not enough water in the Suwannee River Basin to accommodate future demands.

The districts must complete water supply assessments every five years by law. They must project how many people are going to be living here and how much water they will use, then predict how that water use will impact the district.

Fewer Injuries from Jumping Fish

Published Oct 16, 2009 - Wctv
The potentially dangerous sturgeon fish are migrating out of the area, and Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say this has been an unusually quiet season.

Officials say that's a big difference from 2006 and 2007 when several injuries were reported from the jumping fish along the Suwannee River.

Paddling the Suwannee River

Published Oct 16, 2009 - Wctv
Paddle Florida is taking its Fall Suwannee River Excursion.

Over the next week, 55 people will canoe, kayak and boat their way down 123 miles of the Suwannee River.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Manatees head home to Florida

Published October 15, 2009 -
An aerial survey of Florida manatees earlier this year counted 3,800 animals, the highest number since 1991. But manatee deaths - often caused by collisions with boats - also are rising.

In Florida, the manatees will spend at least several months at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo learning to survive in the wild. That will include adjusting to a diet of aquatic plants. Dates for their release into Florida waters have not been set.

Local photographer to present images of Ichetucknee Springs from his new book

Published 10/15/2009 - High Springs Herald
Local photographer and artist Steven Earl will be presenting images of and reflections on the Ichetucknee Springs and river he has recently compiled into a book titled "Ichetucknee: Sacred Waters."

The event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Fort White Community Center.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

With Lake Lanier full, the challenge now is to keep it there

Published October 14, 2009 - Gainesville Times (GA)
Lake Lanier reached — and surpassed — its full pool elevation of 1,071 feet above sea level Wednesday, drowning out any doubt that the recent historic drought has ended.
In July, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled that water withdrawal was not a congressionally authorized use of Lake Lanier. The ruling gives Georgia three years to stop using the reservoir for water consumption, negotiate another deal with Florida and Alabama or have Congress reauthorize the lake’s use.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

‘The Ichetucknee is my muse’

Published October 13, 2009 - Gainesville Sun
Steve Earl has spent 12 years there, raising a family, meditating on the springs, painting them, photographing them and writing about them. Now his musings — embodied in poetry, prose, photography and watercolor landscapes — have culminated in a coffee table book, “Ichetucknee: Sacred Waters,” just published by University Press of Florida.

State Senator Fights To Keep Manatees At Park

Published October 12, 2009
Florida state Sen. Mike Fasano is doing everything he can to keep five manatees at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say the manatees must be set free -- they can't be kept in captivity just to be looked at.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Water: West Volusia gets time to make a plan

Published Oct 9, 2009 - The West Volusia Beacon
Florida’s water districts announced a few years ago that they would not issue any more groundwater-withdrawal permits after 2013; that local suppliers would have to get any additional water from other sources, including surface water.

DEP's Florida Geological Survey to Receive $275,000 in Grant Funds to Continue Study of FL Waters

Published 10-08-2009 - Wakulla.com
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Florida Geological Survey (FGS) was recently awarded more than $275,000 in grant funding for three studies to further its research and improve the state’s understanding of the unique relationship between karst formations and Florida’s groundwater resources and aquifer systems.

$107,826 was awarded by the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) STATEMAP Program for mapping the region west of Ocala, from near Rainbow Springs to the Gulf coast for 2009-2010.

Proposal would restrict watering

Published October 8, 2009 - The Gainesville Sun
Alachua County may restrict the days and hours of lawn watering and landscape irrigation - a move that the St. Johns River Water Management District has requested of all local governments within its jurisdiction to promote water conservation.

The proposed irrigation ordinance, scheduled for a public hearing before the County Commission next Tuesday night, would take the water management district's existing lawn watering restrictions and add them to the county code.

New water supply plans discussed

Published October 9, 2009 - Lake City Reporter
Declining water levels in the Upper Santa Fe River Basin and the local efforts to establish water plans for the future were discussed as a part of a two-hour informational meeting Wednesday.

...the audience viewed and discussed historic flow data about the river as well as studies which proved the declining water levels.

The flow data also chronicled the minimum flow and levels of the Santa Fe River. Minimum flow levels determines how much water is needed to maintain the health of a river, springs, lakes and the aquifer.

Martinez pushes Florida Forever funding

Published October 8th, 2009
Martinez and environmental leaders are scheduled to hold the press conference on Wednesday at the Cypress Point Park in Tampa.

Ichetucknee Springs' Holy water: Dozens gather for group baptism

Published 10/8/09 - High Springs Herald
Randolph was one of many people to get baptized Sunday, Oct. 4, at Ichetucknee Springs, where members of seven local churches gathered for the fourth straight year.

The day the earth opened: Giant sinkholes appear in High Springs

Published 10/8/09 - High Springs Herald
Less than 10 feet in width but more 50 feet deep, the sinkhole was the first of many discovered in High Spring after a Thursday, Sept. 15, torrential downpour. That downpour brought 5.4 inches to the area in 8 hours, according to Megan Wetherington with the Suwannee River Water Management District.

The largest sinkhole is a giant at 75 feet deep and more than a hundred feet across. About a half dozen more are clustered in the same area, with some ranging from just a few feet across and a few feet deep to others that are much larger and deeper.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Volusia County may buy Deltona tract for future water needs.

Published Oct 7, 2009 - The West Volusia Beacon
Facing a possible cut in its license to pump groundwater from the Blue Spring Basin, Volusia County may try to buy a large undeveloped tract adjacent to Deltona to satisfy future water needs.

The County Council Oct. 1 authorized the county staff to seek a deal for about 5,000 acres of woods and wetlands known as the Leffler property.

How safe is the Suwannee? Study shows mercury to be a persistent - and unpredictable - problem in local river system

Published October 07, 2009 - Suwannee Democrat
Recent findings by the U.S. Geological Survey raise concerns about mercury contamination in fish caught from the Suwannee and other area rivers. Currently, there are eight kinds of fish that carry mercury advisories from the Florida Department of Health in the Suwannee River system, which includes the Santa Fe, Withlacoochee and the Alapaha. (

Jacksonville area could pull hard on inland aquifer, forecast says

Published Oct. 7, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
The forecasts show water use in Northeast Florida lowering those levels in inland areas significantly more than the use by people who actually live in inland communities in Bradford, Union, Alachua and Columbia counties.

Those forecasts suggest that part of the Santa Fe River, into which the Ichetucknee River drains, could have damage to its fish and plants if water use in Northeast Florida isn’t controlled.

Nature Coast Fine Art & True Craft Show set for this weekend

Published 10/07/2009 - Citrus Daily
The Nature Coast Fine Art & True Craft Show will be held this weekend, Oct. 11 and 12, on the green adjacent to the Visitor Center at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

The show will run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day, and there will be live music.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Three men survive scary moments on St. Johns

Published October 6, 2009 - Clay Today
Three Clay County men survived some scary moments on the St. Johns River when their small john boat capsized early Saturday, Oct. 3.

“They are all extremely lucky to be alive,” Castelli said. “They were out into the channel, which is a lot further from shore than people realize. Then you have tidal currents that are very strong, especially during a full moon.

Protect water supplies now, before there's a major crisis

Published Oct. 6, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union (Opinion)
People ought to understand that the mere fact that more than 262 million gallons of water a day could be taken from the St. Johns River to boost the state's water supply means that the groundwater is running low. That alone says that water is a finite resource.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Niagara Bottling wins permit in bottled-water battle

Published September 26, 2009 - Orange Sentinel
Niagara Bottling won a two-year war for water Friday when a water-agency official discounted objections by Lake County and Groveland and granted the California-based bottler permission to pump nearly 500,000 gallons daily from the Floridan Aquifer.

For two years, critics have argued that giving Niagara a permit to tap the aquifer clashes with the district's crusade to tighten watering restrictions and direct communities to seek out alternative water sources.

Will Jacksonville's water woes spread across North Florida?

Published Sep. 26, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
Generations of tourists in North Florida visited White Springs and the "spring house" where clear sulfur water bubbled from the ground.

That ended decades ago. Wells drilled around the speck of a town on the Suwannee River pumped so much ground water that the spring stopped flowing.

Early forecasts suggested that by 2030, Jacksonville-area demand could suck down aquifer levels anywhere from one to three feet near the Santa Fe's upper reaches, which get water from both rainfall and springs

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wekiva septic tank fight may scuttle roadway plans

Published Sep 25, 2009 - Orange Sentinel
The fight is about how best to stop pollution from seeping out of household septic tanks into the river.

About 60 top environmental regulators, water managers, real-estate experts and homeowners met for several hours to resolve an impasse over proposed new requirements on household septic tanks thought to be steadily poisoning the springs flowing into the Wekiva River

Water district official says Florida rivers likely to be tapped in future

Published September 25, 2009 - The Gainesville Sun
Florida water agency scientists on Wednesday continued to hash out how to decide whether to siphon water out of the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers.

Florida's water districts have warned that by 2013 they will stop issuing any more permits for groundwater withdrawal. They are afraid that continued siphoning from the aquifer would adversely alter groundwater levels and the springs and rivers they feed.

Preliminary proposals are to withdraw 107 million gallons per day from the Ocklawaha at State Road 40 and 155 million gallons from other points along the St. Johns.

Manatee mural to lure tourists

Published September 25, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
City officials in Orange City unveiled a mural honoring manatees on Tuesday at 11 a.m. behind the Embarq building at 219 N. Volusia Ave.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Artists answer St. Johns River call

Published September 22, 2009 - West Volusia News
A wild, mystical beauty touches artists and authors who visit the St. Johns River, inspiring countless paintings, stories and even song.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and John Bartram wrote of the tea-colored river that meanders nearly 310 miles from a remote lake in South Florida to the Atlantic Ocean at Mayport.

10 Top Spots to Snorkel - Crystal River, Florida

Published Coastal Living
The best place in the country to experience the gentle West Indian manatee is in the springs and protected estuary of this coastal hamlet. Guides will gladly help you with manatee etiquette; for instance, gentle contact is allowed, but only if initiated by the manatee.

USGS details Florida stream gauge history

Published Sept. 22, 2009 - UPI
The U.S. Geological Survey has issued a report detailing the 100-year history of Florida's first stream gauge, located on the Suwannee River at White Springs.

Report (PDF)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Panel discussion on the St. Johns River set for Tuesday

Published September 21, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
A panel discussion about the St. Johns River is set for 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Museum of Florida Art, 600 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand.

The panel, titled "St. Johns River: Yours, Mine and Ours," will include Neil Armingeon of the Riverkeeper organization, former water-management-district board member Ann Moore, Volusia County Council member Andy Kelly, utility officials and a hydrologist.

Will Jax guzzle our water?

Published September 21, 2009 - The Gainesville Sun
...a color-coded map of groundwater levels by the year 2030, it indicates that growth in the Jacksonville area will cause a drop in parts of Alachua, Bradford, Putnam and other counties.

The Suwannee River and St. Johns River water management districts are doing a water assessment study that will plan for Northeast Florida's water supply through 2030.

Radio Interview - Owner of Santa Fe Springs

Radio Interview with Mr. Cheeseman, owner of Santa Fe Springs, LLC, on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 8 am - 9 am.
Source: Email

Sunday, September 20, 2009

David McLain : Consensus is needed on tri-state river basin

Published Sept 20, 2009 - Tallahassee Democrat (Opinion)
After more than 18 years of litigation, mediation and negotiation without achieving an equitable, sustainable allocation of the interstate waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin, it's time for an approach that actively involves the people of the basin whose interests and livelihoods depend on that resource.

The newly formed ACF Stakeholders Inc. will establish an important milestone in finally finding an equitable allocation of the waters of the basin.

For additional information on the ACFS, contact Brian Manwaring, facilitator, U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution at (520) 901-8529. Visit www.acfstakeholders.org for more details of the approved charter and the application process.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Commission rejects proposal for pipeline

Published September 18, 2009 - Lake City Reporter
Columbia County officials will not allow a pipeline on its property which takes water from the Santa Fe River to a proposed water bottling plant in Fort White.

In fact, the commission has decided to write another letter to state level officials reaffirming the county’s commitment to the environment and local water sources by requesting that water bottling plants be prohibited from taking water from the Suwannee River or any of its tributaries.

Florida manatee deaths up this year; St. Marks River manatee latest local death

Published Sept 18, 2009 - Tallahassee Democrat
The St. Marks River manatee was the first confirmed death in Wakulla County since April 2005 and is the first one of the year for the coastal counties of Wakulla, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor and Jefferson. In December 2008, a Franklin County manatee died of cold stress.

As of Sept. 11, 349 deaths have been confirmed. The five-year average for Jan. 1 through Sept. 11 is 263.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Saving a river starts with you – and, yes, them, too

Published 9/17/09 - High Springs Herald
More than 75 people gathered to hear updates on how a variety of people were working toward the same goal – to keep the Ichetucknee watershed healthy.

Every river has a watershed that must be protected in order for a river to be healthy. A watershed is an area of land in which all the water under the land and all the water that drains onto the land flows to the same place.

Georgia refusing to "accept reality" in water wars ruling, Alabama governor's office says

Published September 17, 2009
"We cannot understand why Georgia thinks this appellate court will view the matter any differently than all the other courts that have considered it," according to the statement released by Governor Riley's Press Secretary Todd Stacy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bottling plant may open in Fort White

Published September 17, 2009 - Lake City Reporter
A request to place infrastructure on county property by a Columbia County property owner attempting to establish a future bottled water plant in Fort White could have a bearing on the Santa Fe River’s health.

The permit, which expires April 10, 2020, gives the authority to withdraw a maximum of 150,000 gallons of water a day, but not to exceed 54,750,000 gallons per year. The withdrawal would take place in the lower Santa Fe River basin with the water headed to a proposed bottling facility which will be located in Fort White.

Wekiwa Springs: Orlando’s Secret State Park

Published September 16th, 2009
Canoeing is the biggest draw at Wekiwa Springs State Park. There are miles of river to paddle or to simply float down. The water is clear, the trees make a cool canopy and the sky is blue. You can start at the head of the springs, paddle down the river and then take a shuttle back up to “Canoe Beach” – your starting point.

There is also camping at Wekiwa Springs State Park, and it’s one of the few Florida State Parks that actually allows pet camping! Not to worry, there is a campground for people without pets, too.

Teen dies while trying to swim across Suwannee River

Published September 16, 2009 - The Gainesville Sun
According to the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office, Oshae Butler, 16, of Lake City, drowned Saturday while attempting to swim across the river with two friends. Butler was reported missing shortly after noon and was last seen about 200 yards up from Little River Springs.

"When you are standing on the bank, the river gives the appearance of being peaceful and not as far across as it really is," Colvin said. "You can't seen any movement, so you probably don't think about the current, but you have to fight what can be a pretty strong current to swim straight across."

Your guide to the St. Johns River

Published 09/16/2009 - The Daily Record
The “Get Your Feet Wet” guide to the St. Johns River was officially released to the public by the St. Johns Riverkeeper and Mayor John Peyton during a ceremony Tuesday at Memorial Park in Riverside, which officials said provide a needed and informational spotlight on one of the region’s most important assets.

The 170-page guide provides comprehensive detail on the river, said Armingeon, and is broken down into easily navigable sections including river facts, trip preparation tips and tactics, places to explore, things to do, facts and pictures of river wildlife, a resource section and a journal for note taking.
Ordering Info

Georgia to appeal water wars ruling

Published September 16, 2009 - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
In court filings this week, the Georgia parties said they will ask the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to overturn Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson’s July 17 order.

Since the ruling, Perdue set out a multi-pronged strategy. In addition to litigation, he seeks water-sharing talks with the governors of Alabama and Florida. He has asked Congress to pass legislation allowing the metro area to tap into Lake Lanier. He is pushing North Georgia communities to find other water storage sources, including reservoirs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Volusia offers to drop water lawsuit

Published Sep 15, 2009 - The Beacon Online
At a recent meeting, County Council members expressed consternation over a letter sent by the Legal Department to the St. Johns River Water Management District. The letter was mailed Aug. 27 with the support of the county administration, before the County Council had seen or even heard of it.

Volusia County filed suit with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, seeking to force the Water Management District to back off its demands for pricey water projects. The county wants the district to accept its proposals for managing and conserving water supplies, instead. The administrative hearing in the case was set to begin Oct. 13 in DeLand.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Central Florida Getaways of the Day

Rock Springs Run is an 8.5 mile stretch of gently flowing, clear spring water through an unspoiled Florida forest -- and it's 30 minutes out of downtown Orlando.The spring-fed stream can be canoed or kayaked in about four hours. The current is strong enough that much of that time, however, you can float and maybe just steer a little.

Local students color in history

Published September 12, 2009 - Lake City Reporter
Who would have thought a coloring book could teach kindergarten students so much about the area in which they live.

The “Learning About Our Springs and Farms” activity book is a joint partnership between the Santa Fe Soil and Water Conservation District, the Ichetucknee Partnership, Suwannee River Water Management District and the Columbia County School District. The book is designed to educate kindergarten students in the district about the Columbia County area.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guide helps us appreciate, understand St. Johns River

Published Sep. 11, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
The book, Get Your Feet Wet, is chock-full of information about the river, including its history - Saber-toothed cats, mastodons and giant sloths once roamed the St. Johns region - and river facts such as the 310-mile long river is the home to 180 fish species and new ones are still being discovered.

Get Your Feet Wet is available on the Riverkeeper's Web site: http://www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rescued manatee family returns to St. Johns River at East Palatka boat ramp

Published September 10, 2009 - Palatka Daily News
Three manatees were on their way from the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, and they were ready to make their way back home into East Palatka waters.

On May 14, a large female manatee was injured when a boat in the St. Johns River hit her, causing a blunt trauma wound to her chest and a collapsed lung.

Levy commission concerned about siphoning of water supply

Published 9/10/09 - The Chiefland Citizen
The Levy County Commission is sending a letter to the St. John's Water Management District expressing the board's concern about what it feels is excessive water use in the populous area around Jacksonville.

“When it came to long-term draw down, you used to worry about a pipeline from South Florida,” he said. “Well, it's going to the Jacksonville area.”

He said some of the water is also being siphoned off by Georgia. That's because 60 percent of the Suwannee River water basin is in Georgia.

Because of the drawdowns, White Springs no longer flows. “And we're having problems with Worthington.”

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writing a letter about Niagara? Save your ink

Published September 9, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
Those who send their thoughts and remarks, expecting them to be passed on to St. Johns Executive Director Kirby Green, are getting back a form letter from the district's top public-relations guy saying that rules prevent Green or his board members from considering anything that's not part of "the record." That would be the evidence presented during the administrative process.

Volusia settling water dispute

Published September 8, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
Officials may be ready to settle differences over the idea that the county would buy water from an Ocklawaha River project.

The county didn't want the St. Johns River Water Management District to include it in a list of governments that would tap into the Lower Ocklawaha for future water-supply needs.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Kayak for a Cause on Rainbow River

Published September 8, 2009 - Ocala Star-Banner
The second annual Kayak for a Cause will begin at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 18, at Gruff's Tap & Grill, 19773 E. Pennsylvania Ave. Races begin at 9 a.m. with heats for singles and doubles.

The races are about four miles up the Rainbow River to just above KP Hole County Park and four miles back. Use of a boat is free (while supplies last) and lunch is included for a $50 registration fee. There will be awards and door prizes. Participants may bring their own canoes or kayaks. Youths age 18 or younger may participate for free if accompanied by an adult racer.

The recipient of proceeds will be the Boys & Girls Club of Dunnellon. For information, call 489-7854.

Florida's waterways must be a priority

Published September 8, 2009 - St. Petersburg Times
Recently the Gulf Restoration Network released a report titled "Clean Up Your Act! A Review of How the Clean Water Act Is Incorporated into Gulf States Water Regulations." The report can be viewed at www.healthygulf.org

In our region we see rivers like the Weeki Wachee suffering from nutrient pollution. Reducing nutrient pollution, whether through better regulations and enforcement, or through local fertilizer ordinances, is essential to the survival of our springs, rivers, and coastlines.

Good crowd for last call at Blue Springs

Published September 8, 2009 -
About 300 people turned out for the last day of the season at Blue Springs Recreation Area on Labor Day Monday.

He estimates there were 34,000 visits over the course of the season, 24 percent higher than last year, and 74 percent higher than in 2006.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Historian to address Blue Spring group

Published September 07, 2009 - West Volusia News
Historian Bill Dreggors plans to discuss the biological structure of Blue Spring Run at a meeting of the Blue Spring Working Group on Sept. 16 at Volusia County's Historic Courthouse, 125 W. New York Ave.

The meeting is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dreggors will also discuss nutrient loading from reclaimed water to groundwater and verification of Blue Spring as an impaired water body.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Water management updates, future plans aimed at protecting resources

Published September 05, 2009 - Bradford County Telegraph
The district has the highest concentration of natural springs anywhere in the world. More than 250 have been identified, and more than 170 feed the Suwannee River. They are particularly important during low flow periods because they account for 72 percent of the river's flow, so it's vital to the economy that the springs and the aquifer that feeds them be protected, Minnis said. If water levels drop too low, then those springs will dry up.

At the same time, a great deal of the surface watersheds are outside the water management district's jurisdiction and even out of the state and the Florida Aquifer is an important source of water for this state as well as southern parts of Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

West is best for stormwater flow

Published 2009 Sep 04 - Hometown News
An estimated $20 million stormwater diversion project that continues taking shape west of the city is expected to lead to cleaner waterways and better wildlife habitats.

The system will involve the 2,250-acre Sawgrass Lake Water Management Area and a new, 1,800-acre reservoir nearby. In these areas, wetland vegetation will help filter nutrients and suspended solids from the diverted stormwater. The cleaner water then will be sent on to the St. Johns River.

Sporting Clay: Keep away from the blue-green algae

Published Sep. 4, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
Massive "blooms" of blue-green algae, known as "cyanobacteria," have created thick green mats along the shorelines of Doctors Lake, the St. Johns River and area creeks.

Algae occur naturally in fresh waters and blooms are normal during warm months, but nutrient pollution is what causes the large, intense blooms we are currently seeing. Nitrogen and phosphorus are two of the biggest culprits. They come from fertilizer washing into our waterways during heavy rain.

Blue Springs season to end this weekend

Published: September 4, 2009 - Jackson County Floridan
Blue Springs Recreational Park is closed after Labor Day and doesn't open again until around Memorial Day next year.

“Over 34,000 people came to Blue Springs this year,” Hatcher said.
Attendance went up about 34 percent this year, bringing in about $106,000 in user fees, he said.

The park will still be available to reserve over the fall and winter months, he said. Those interested in renting a space may call 718-0437.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Underground link to spring discovered

Published Sep. 3, 2009 - Chiefland Citizen News
Scientists working with the state have determined that a Chiefland sinkhole that collects runoff water does in fact connect to Manatee Springs State Park and two other locations.

“As of today, we know that there is an absolutely unambiguous connection between the sink on (Northeast) Fourth Street and Manatee Springs,” Pete Butt, project manager for Karst Environmental Services, said.

Algae in the St. Johns Leads to Health Alert

Published 9/3/2009 - First Coast News
The algae in the St. Johns River continues to bloom, causing not only an unattractive discoloration, but also a health risk.

Thursday, the Florida Department of Health issued a health alert to remind everybody to take precautions around the waterway.

Septic tank mystery clouds Jacksonville's plans for cleaner water

Published September 03, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
When Jacksonville's Water and Sewer Expansion Authority was given the job of helping older neighborhoods get off septic tanks and onto sewer lines, managers asked JEA in 2003 how many homes and businesses in the city still had tanks.

A report released last week on progress fulfilling the River Accord, a regional environmental campaign, estimated there were 85,000 tanks in Duval County.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Time to redouble efforts at protecting fragile river

Published Sep. 1, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
Jacksonville now has a fertilizer ordinance, which puts the burden on all of us to use less fertilizer and to apply it in a river-friendly way when it is used.

Watering restrictions are also in place and, considering half of the water taken from the aquifer is used on landscaping, conservation is a key in stopping efforts to take millions of gallons of water a day from the river to quench the thirst of Central Florida.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Prepare to linger at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Published August 31, 2009 - SunSentinel
Homosassa Springs is a refuge for orphaned or injured West Indian manatees and for those born in captivity. They average 12 feet long and 1,200 pounds. The mammals have no defense against predators; humans are perhaps the greatest threat through watercraft or fishing accidents and habitat loss.

On July 15, the park was named in honor of the late Ellie Schiller of Yankeetown, Fla., an environmentalist who supported the park and several area institutions through the Felburn Foundation. In the 1940s, the land housed an entertainment attraction featuring exotic animals. After changing hands through the years, it became a state park in 1989 and has grown to focus on native Florida wildlife and environmental education, says park services specialist Susan Strawbridge.

Feds Okay Tourists Swimming With Manatees

Published August 31, 2009 - CommonDreams.org
...the agency has rejected a petition to ban the practice or impose new safeguards, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

In a letter dated August 25, 2009, the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) indicated that it would take no action at this time, although it had yet to make a decision on whether to designate Kings Bay, Three Sisters Springs and Homosassa Springs as critical habitat for the manatee, an action that would restrict swimming in those areas during winter months.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Best places to go: Mayport and the mouth of the St. John's River

Published August 29, 2009 - Jacksonville Boating
One of the most popular boating sports in Jacksonville is at the mouth of the St. Johns River. Nestled between Hugeunot Park and Mayport, this location offers fishing and sightseeing, but it is not for the novice boater.

The best way to get on the river is at the public boat ramp located near the Coast Guard base. This very large, free ramp is always busy and sits on the south side of the river.

Don't trash environment to save budget, Peyton says

Published August 29, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
Despite bad financial times, Jacksonville can't afford to backtrack on environmental protection, Mayor John Peyton told the audience at an environmental conference Friday.

Peyton urged hundreds of people at the city-sponsored meeting to tell City Council members they support ongoing city projects to reduce pollution entering the St. Johns River from unmanaged stormwater, failed septic tanks and excess fertilizer washed off lawns.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wakulla River Manatee Observation Trip

Published August 21, 2009 - Tallahassee Democrat
Meet at TnT to be shuttled to the Upper Bridge and paddle to St. Marks with certified Green Guide to observe the manatees in the Wakulla River. $45, includes kayak rental. Reservations required. TnT Hideaway, 6527 Coastal Highway, Crawfordville. 925-6412.

Land swap helps St. Johns River stay wild

Published August 21, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
Public agencies had already acquired all but 1 1/2 miles of St. Johns River shoreline between State Road 50 at the east end of Orange County and S.R. 46 at the east end of Seminole County in an effort that began with the purchase of a ranch back in 1981.

Now, the missing 1 1/2 -mile-long piece of shoreline is about to be acquired by the St. Johns River Water Management District through a property swap with the Clonts family, longtime ranchers in the area.

Protecting such a large swath of land along the St. Johns River serves several purposes. The natural landscape of marsh and forested swamp sponges up floodwaters that regularly surge down the river. Those wetlands also cleanse waters flowing downstream and provide habitat for varied wildlife, from bears to bald eagles.

Wakulla River Manatee Observation Trip

Published August 21, 2009 - Tallahassee Democrat
Meet at TnT to be shuttled to the Upper Bridge and paddle to St. Marks with certified Green Guide to observe the manatees in the Wakulla River. $45, includes kayak rental. Reservations required. TnT Hideaway, 6527 Coastal Highway, Crawfordville. 925-6412.

Water negotiator 'guardedly' upbeat about deal

Published August 21, 2009 - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia Power President Michael Garrett, chosen by Gov. Sonny Perdue to end the Southeastern water war, said Thursday he’s “guardedly optimistic” that a water-sharing deal between Georgia and Alabama can be reached by year’s end despite nearly two decades of fruitless efforts.

Garrett, who worked for Alabama Power for more than a decade, has reviewed water war negotiations between Alabama and Georgia that almost came to fruition in 2003 and 2007. Two sticking points then and now: water flows at the Georgia-Alabama line; and lake levels, during drought and non-drought times, at the seven reservoirs Alabama Power owns along the Tallapoosa River.

Alexander Springs: Make a Day of Kayaking and Snorkeling

Published Third Quarter 2009 - Trail Keeper News
This publication is produced by the Florida Paddling Trails Association. In this issue on pgs 6-7 they cover the experience of kayaking the Alexander Springs.

They also make mention on pg 9 of the Weeki Wachee Paddling & Music Festival to be held Feb, 2010. There will be canoe & kayak demos, skills training, sales of paddling boats
and gear, and guided tours in the area.
Source (PDF)

When you think of a sea cow, do you think of Linda Tripp? Manatees in Crystal River FL

Published August 21, 2009 - examiner.com
Crystal River, Florida is 65 miles north of Tampa on the beautiful nature coast, is the home of the manatee (also known as the sea cow). Locals will tell you there are 400 manatees along Crystal River and they may be right.

Crystal River took the #3 spot in Coastal Living Magazine to snorkel on the top ten places in America.

Friday, August 21, 2009

EPA tightens limits on pollution in St. Johns River

Published August 21, 2009 - Jacksonville Business Journal
The Environmental Protection Agency has signed a consent agreement to set quantifiable limits on nutrient pollution in Florida’s lakes and rivers. Nutrient pollution is the primary cause of the algal blooms that have afflicted the St. Johns River

Bike path to Manatee Springs in the works

Published 8/20/09 - The Chiefland Citizen
n October, the Florida Department of Transportation will begin accepting bids for the construction of two five-mile-long paths along both sides of State Road 320 leading to the springs, according to FDOT Public Information Director Gina Busscher.

Lieb said the park, which has 82 campsites and 158 daytime parking spaces, gets no fewer than 125,000 visitors a year—most of them by automobile.

If You Squint Just Right, You Can Pretend To Dive With Mermaids

Published August 20, 2009
American Pro Dive will be happy to help you have a close encounter with these big guys and gals. No need to know how to scuba dive, as there’s an option to snorkel with them in the Crystal River as well as in Homosassa, Florida. Instructors will hit the water with you to ensure that the manatees, and you, don’t get too frisky.

Tours run throughout the year in the Crystal River, but it’s winters only for the location in Homosassa.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Skeletal remains found at Crystal River

Published August 17, 2009 - TBO.com
A passerby contacted the sheriff's office at around 3:40 p.m. Monday to alert the agency of human skeletal remains found off West Fort Island Trail near the intersection of North Seabreeze Point.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Health Alert Issued as Algae Returns to St. Johns River

Published 8/12/2009 -
Health experts say you don't want to swim or drink the water.
It could leave you sick with a rash or flu-like symptoms.

Neil Armingeon, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, says this is caused by high levels of nitrogen. He says everyday about 120 Million gallons of water waste is put into the lower St. Johns River.

River Algae Prompts Health Warning

Published August 12, 2009 - News4Jax.com
The Florida Department of Health issued a health warning Wednesday about exposure to the algae that is growing on the St. Johns River and its tributaries.

Independent lab results of water samples from the lower St. Johns River basin found elevated concentrations of algal toxins in one sample. Algae in the sample, collected between July 31 and Aug. 5, was identified as Microcystis aeruginosa -- the same toxin observed in past years.

Third proposal surfaces for pumping water for public use from St. Johns River

Published August 11, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
Already in the works are two separate projects that would tap the river for water near Sanford and in southeast Orange County. Both of those proposals are entangled in legal fights.

Partners in this third and newest venture had hoped Tuesday to persuade state water managers in Palatka to contribute $1.5 million to studies and preliminary design work that would total $5 million over several years and help determine the feasibility of such a large withdrawal.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Development draining springs feeding St. Johns, scientists say

Published Aug. 11, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
The drop in water production was reported at Silver Springs, a Marion County tourist attraction where people in glass-bottom boats peer into clear, deep water, and at four smaller sites in Central Florida: Fern Hammock , De Leon , Rock and Wekiwa springs

In 1949, just 3 percent of the ground in the Silver Springs springshed was considered “urban,” or heavily developed. By 2005, that had changed to 37 percent, the report said. Over the same period, the area considered natural, undisturbed land dropped from 74 percent to 36 percent.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fun to be had at Rainbow River attractions

Published August 9, 2009
For the last 11 years, Stanton has worked for Rainbow River Canoe and Kayak, which provides shuttle service to the K.P. Hole tuber park.

Everyone in business along the rivers ponders the problem of over-usage. We've been discovered. People are coming from all over Florida and even other states. But when K.P. Hole hits its maximum number of people allowed for one day, how do you tell someone who has driven three or four hours, 'Sorry, the park is full.' "

Note: Article includes a nice list of places to rent tubes.

Prepare to linger at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Published August 9, 2009 -
At the Fish Bowl, which floats in the headwaters of Homosassa Spring, visitors can see manatees and fish through large underwater windows. I bypassed the children's education center in favor of lingering along the walkway that borders the shallow Homosassa River to photograph great blue herons.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Utilities, Mormons battle for reservoir

Published August 4, 2009 - Florida Today
A legal fight over whether Central Florida utilities must pay Deseret Ranches millions of dollars in fees for drinking water from Taylor Creek Reservoir could stall plans to tap the manmade lake to fuel growth and ease stress on groundwater, wetlands and springs.

The district wants a judge to clarify that it has the right to flow and store water in Taylor Creek Reservoir, which sits on Deseret's land, for public drinking water. The district is suing to bring more certainty for the utilities involved in the project, which the district has nudged for years to use more of the St. Johns instead of more groundwater.

The utilities have been in discussions with Deseret for years about building a treatment plant to pull more water from the reservoir and the St. Johns River, which feeds it. Deseret's demand makes cities vying for drinking water unsure what it will cost.

Soiling Glen Springs

Published August 3, 2009 - Ocala Star-Banner
"This is a special place," Lint said. "It's got problems. There's rules on the books, but we have to look at the long-term management here."

He said part of the problem is that many government entities are involved. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission does compliance with boat traffic and boating safety. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has jurisdiction over sovereign submerged lands or waterways. The U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service has designated Silver Glen as a critical habitat for manatees. And the spring is in the Forest, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Generally, the state of Florida has jurisdiction over the state's waterways, but because Silver Glen Springs is on the eastern edge of the Forest, Lint said he has concurrent jurisdiction.

Florida state parks deal with 82.5 percent cut in maintenance budget

Published August 3, 2009 - Tallahassee Democrat
...fixed capital outlay, was cut 82.5 percent from 28.5 million last year to 5 million this year, effective July 1, putting a serious kink in maintenance efforts including facility repair, removing accessibility barriers, resource restoration, historic facility maintenance and road repair.

Wakulla Springs needs list adds up to just over a million dollars. Their most expensive request, establishing a hydrilla removal program, would cost $350,000.

Update Lily Springs

Received 8/3/09
The Gilchrist Board of County Commissioners received a request from John Barley and Richard Corbin to "support and cooperate with public acquisition" of the sale of their 10 acre piece of land on the Santa Fe River which included Lily Springs. The Board so moved to create a resolution to do so.

There was no money discussed other than the fact that this would not cost the County any monies what so ever. The Board unanimously agreed that it would be a good thing to have Lily in public ownership.

Barley is working with John Hutchinson of Alachua Conservation Trust to get his needs met.

OSFR is still very curious why a private land owner must be in front of a board of commissioners to ask them for verbal support so that they may sell their land to some sort of public entity?

After the meeting, Russ Augspurg (OSFR board member) asked Barley if he still planned to bottle water. Barley made it clear that yes, he still plans to get a WUP for BULK TRANSFER of water (not actually bottling).
Bulk Transfer still removes our most precious natural resource from where it is needed most. Last I checked the SRWMD did not allow new bulk transfer of water in or out of our District (there is one old permit with Suntory in Levy County that bulk transfers to Orlando area).
Source: Email

Central Florida eyes river withdrawal

Published August 3, 2009 - Jacksonville Business Journal
A consortium of seven Central Florida municipalities wants to do a $5 million study on the viability of bolstering water supplies by up to 54 million gallons per day from the St. Johns River.

The consortium — Orange County, along with the cities of Casselberry, Deltona, Maitland, Oviedo, Sanford and Winter Springs — on Aug. 11 will ask the St. Johns River Water Management District to chip in up to $1.5 million toward the cost of the study.

2009 Lower St. Johns River Report Brochure

Published 8/3/2009
The short brochure provides a brief summary of the status and trends of each item or indicator (i.e. water quality, fisheries, etc.) looked at for the river. The full report and appendix were produced to provide those interested with more detail regarding the results summarized in the brochure.

The 2009 Lower St. Johns River Report will be available from the link below on August 28th, 2009.
http://www.sjrreport.com/media/pdf/sjrreport2009_brochure.pdf (PDF)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Whose water is it? Water rights in the age of scarcity.

Posted August 02 2009
Interesting Post that applies to what is happening between Florida, Georgia and Alabama in regards to the Apalachicola River

This is an old idea -- the water falls here or runs through here so why can't I use all of it? At the grandest scale, this idea is called "The Harmon Doctrine," which says that upstream water users have the right to do whatever they want with the water in their own "territory" no matter what harm it causes to downstream users. It was named after a U.S. Attorney General in the 1890s who said that Mexico had no right to any water that originates in the U.S., even if the river flows into Mexico. The only problem for Governor Purdue, and Georgia, is that the Harmon Doctrine has been universally repudiated: in international law, in U.S. law, and in any ethical or moral set of rules.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Forum: Ga.-Fla. game good weapon in 'water war'

Published 8/1/2009 - OnlineAthens.com
For the past 20 years, Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been locked in a "water war" over the Chattahoochee River. The river rises in Georgia, creates Lake Lanier behind Buford Dam and then flows to West Point, where it becomes the state boundary for Georgia and Alabama as it moves south. When it merges with the Flint River, it becomes the Apalachicola River and flows across the Florida panhandle and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Students Learned about Wakulla's Environment at 2009 SEEK Conference

Published 07-28-2009 - Wakulla.com
Teenagers from across Florida converged on the Lodge at Wakulla Springs State Park for two 4-day conference sessions in July. The 2009 SEEK environmental conference attracted 55 high school students from as far away as Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.

After enjoying a boat ride at Wakulla Springs, first-time participants learned about Karst hydrogeology, nutrient pollution, and springs protection. They swam in Wakulla Springs and canoed on the Wakulla River, spotting manatees and other wildlife.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Judge’s Ruling Signals End to Tri-State Water Dispute

Published Jul 17, 2009 - WCTV
In the decision, U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson ruled that Congress needs to approve use of the water from Lake Lanier for water supply – which currently amounts to nearly one-quarter of the conservation storage. In addition, Judge Magnuson ordered that all water withdrawals be frozen at current levels for the next three years until Congressional authorization is given or if some other resolution is reached. If Congress does not approve a reallocation within that period, then water withdrawals from Lake Lanier will revert to “baseline” operation of the mid-1970s.

“Today’s ruling is a monumental milestone in the 18-year battle between Florida, Alabama and Georgia over the waters of the ACF basin, underscoring the importance of the Apalachicola’s environment and economy,” said Governor Crist. “The Judge’s decision allows the governors to come together to reach an agreement outside of the court system. I look forward to working with Governors Riley and Perdue to find a solution that will be beneficial for all of our states.”

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Wal-Mart holds meeting, gives no presentation about planned supercenter

Published 7/3/09 - High Springs Herald
Articles includes a site plan map shows the nearly 155,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter with accompanying parking low and retention pond area. Mill Creek Sink can be seen at the far right of the photo. Wal-Mart officials said they could not answer questions about the sinkhole, which sends water into an aquifer conduit that takes water to Camp Kulaqua and the Santa Fe River. Wal-Mart officials said Wal-Mart does not own that land and that questions should be directed to The First Street Group, which owns the sinkhole and the land around it.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Crist signs bill condemned by environmentalists

Published Jul. 1, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
Gov. Charlie Crist signed a contentious bill Tuesday that moves permitting power over communities’ water use into the hands of executive directors at the state’s five water management districts.

State laws and board policies allowed that except in the case of major water-consumption permits, such as permits to use more than 500,000 gallons daily, and other large-scale environmental permits, such as for construction affecting more than 100 acres or work impacting more than one acre of wetlands.

Monday, June 29, 2009

UNF hosts events focused on St. Johns River

Published Jun. 29, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
On Wednesday, UNF's Coastal Biology Program is sponsoring "The River As We See It," an art exhibit that showcases artifacts, photography and paintings of the river. It will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Jacksonville Main Library.

They are also sponsoring a lecture on "The Current State of the St. Johns River," from Noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 15 at the Jacksonville Main Library downtown.

Groveland's water-battle bill nears $800,000

Published June 28, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
This small Lake County city has poured nearly $800,000 so far into its battle against a California bottling company's efforts to get its water from the Floridan Aquifer.

Niagara is asking the St. Johns River Water Management District whether it can pump as much as 484,000 gallons of water per day from its south Lake County facility, bottle it and sell it.

Researchers: Slowing Apalachicola River flow harmful to marine life

Published June 28, 2009 - Tallahassee Democrat
Reducing the flow of the Apalachicola River could have detrimental effects on marine ecosystems, including fish populations, according to a recent study by researchers at Florida State University.

Using satellite ocean color data and an ocean model, the study found that years with low-river flow showed a lesser concentration of phytoplankton, a microscopic plant-like organism that serves as food for bigger organisms, Morey said.

Bike Florida launches year-round touring program

Published 6/28/09 - Travel Video News
Tours will initially cover the 260-mile St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop, a richly historic route that includes America’s oldest city, St. Augustine; the Merritt Island and Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuges, state parks, country museums and beach swimming, with water taxi and houseboat connections.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

As water levels fall, districts join forces

Published June 27, 2009 - The Gainesville Sun
Two water management districts have begun working together on how to deal with declining groundwater levels in North Florida.

Employees of the Suwannee River and St. Johns River water management districts met earlier this month to determine why the water levels are declining and how to reverse the trend.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hillsborough shops offer canoe and kayak rentals

Published June 26, 2009 - St. Petersburg Times
Although Cribbs' business has declined over the years, it's not a reflection of the industry in the area. Just 23 miles down the road, business at the Little Manatee Canoe Outpost continues to increase.

Some weekends in the spring are so busy that all 45 canoes and 20 kayaks get rented, Ruddeforth said. Business slows a little in the summer, but on Saturday the Canoe Outpost had 70 to 80 customers, or about 35 boat rentals. On the same day, Alafia Canoe Rentals did about 30 rentals. But Cribbs said some weekend days she rents out as few as 15 of her 100 canoes and five single-person kayaks.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tubers now have more options to enjoy Rainbow River

Published June 25, 2009 - Ocala Star-Banner
The Rainbow is a first-magnitude spring ranked fourth in Florida for volume of discharge, producing 400 million to 600 million gallons of water a day along the 5.9-mile-long waterway, said Jerry Rogers, vice-president of the environmental group Rainbow River Conservation Inc.

For families with young children, Rainbow Springs State Park's newer tubing operation, now in its second season, is a good way to try tubing without committing to such a long run, Rogers said.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Answers to specific questions re: Poe Springs

Published Jun 24, 2009
· Park management verbally telling canoers/kayakers that they could not paddle into spring & spring run and would have to pay admission fee to swim
· 2 posted signs along the spring run that caused confusion – leading river users to believe the spring and spring run were private (“DESIGNATED SWIMMING AREA – NO BOATS BEYOND THIS POINT” + “POE SPRINGS PARK – ENTRANCE FEE - $5.00 PER PERSON”)
Both issues bulleted above can qualify as “unauthorized preemption” of SSL (Sovereign Submerged Lands)

· Alachua County & Nature Quest was informed of the title determination – both agreed not to limit/manage/control public access to Poe Spring and the spring run
· County removed both signs from the spring run (signs had been put up prior to Nature Quest management) – I (DEP) visited site this morning and confirmed removal
· Informed county that they could not deposit “new sand” or “other fill” w/in 100’ of the spring & spring run to maintain the present man-made beach area

1. Yes, the waters in the spring and spring run are for the public’s use and cannot be managed by another party without authorization
2. Yes, any lands “waterward” of the “ordinary high” along the Santa Fe River, the spring run, and the spring itself is SSL for public use (lawful) and cannot be managed by another party without authorization
3. Yes, the land submerged (bottom) in the spring and spring run is SSL for public use – public can “walk” up the spring run
4. Yes, the public has the right to park on the Santa Fe River bank (staying in water) & wade/walk or swim up into the spring run and spring. Yes, the public can paddle up into the spring run and spring.

At different times the fixed ordinary high water line can fall below water levels (i.e. floods) or can be above water levels on dry bank (i.e. drought) – a good rule of thumb is for the public to stay in the water column with their vessel and feet – along the mostly level river, spring bottom. Walking along the exposed sloping banks of rivers and springs contribute to bank erosion and potentially gets the user into an issue with the surrounding property owner. We ask the public to respect private property and use care when paddling into springs with swimmers/divers/children present. Alachua Co and Nature Quest stated that they will approach individuals for admissions if they walk above the top of the bank – i.e. to use the restroom or picnic facilities. They understand that paddlers will be along the banks when exiting their vessels to go for a swim.

Hope this helps - call if any questions,

Carmine Oliverio

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Northeast District - Live Oak Field Office
Submerged Lands / Environmental Resources Permitting - Compliance & Enforcement
(386) 362-0417
Source: Email correspondence

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

'Staycation' At Blue Springs Recreational Area

Published Jun 23, 2009 - WJHQ
The Blue Springs Recreational Area has 68 degrees of crystal clear blue water.

Approximately 122 million gallons of water flows through Blue Springs everyday.
It's one of 33 "first magnitude" springs throughout Florida.
County Parks Director Chuck Hatcher says they've already seen a big attendance increase even though they're only open 84 days out of the year.

Monday, June 22, 2009

92-year-old crusader's latest cause is saving the St. Johns River

Published June 22, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
Stetson Kennedy, legendary champion of civil rights and cultural preservation, has begun a legal battle at age 92 to keep thirsty Central Florida from draining the St. Johns River.

This time, he got a lawyer and filed a lawsuit three weeks ago, alleging a violation of his rights under the state's open-government laws and asking a judge to void the decision made during the meeting to grant Seminole County rights to pump river water.

"We pay enough of a price for the arrogance of government," Kennedy said last week at his home near the St. Johns River. "The river is in for a heap of big trouble."

Volusia County starts study of water, sewer rates

Published Jun 21, 2009 - The West Volusia Beacon
The St. Johns River Water Management District is demanding Volusia and surrounding counties consider tapping the St. Johns River or desalinating sea water. This refined water would be distributed to local utilities for sale to their customers, perhaps as a blend with groundwater.

If Volusia County is to be a partner in the development of the Yankee Lake project and thus to receive some of the treated river water, it may soon have to pay between $2 million and $3 million as part of its share in the venture.

Blue Springs Park Setting Records

Published - June 21, 2009
...averaging almost 1,000 people per day...

After being open only sixteen days of the season the park has attracted 15,300 people. During last year’s record year, the total attendance for the season was 27,600. “The park has everything in place for a family to come and enjoy a great day of fun in a wonderful, family environment.” (I couldn't agree more, this is one of th top 3 Springs for the family throughout Florida)

Final straw? Anxiety grows about reaching water's limit

Published June 21, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
On any given day, more than 3.6 million gallons of water — more than enough to fill five Olympic-size swimming pools — is sucked up from the ground in Florida, put into bottles and sold.

Bottled-water companies also draw a relative drop in the bucket compared with other beverage companies.

•Beer: Anheuser-Busch's Jacksonville brewery has a permit to draw more than 6.25 million gallons a day for the brewing, bottling and packaging of its beer.

•Juice: The Cutrale Citrus Juices USA plant in Leesburg is allocated 904,110 gallons of water per day for juice production, fruit processing and irrigating its 4.4 acres of landscaping.

DeLand, county, New Smyrna file objections over water plant on Lower Ocklawaha

Published Jun 21, 2009 - The West Volusia Beacon
The bigger picture, Elkind said, is the Water Management District requiring all West Volusia cities to seek alternative water sources, not just to accommodate future growth, but to provide current needs.

One reason is to protect the water flow at Blue Spring, but recent studies show rainfall has much more effect on those levels than do wells drilled into the aquifer, Elkind said. Studies commissioned by DeLand, the county, Deltona and Orange City are challenging the district's studies.

Questions asked about ‘imaginary line’ between springs and river

Published 6/19/09 - High Springs Herald
Questions about the “imaginary line” between Poe Springs Park and the Santa Fe River has both the Alachua county attorney and officials from the state investigating.
The state will be investigating what it calls the Sovereign Submerged Lands (SSL) issue.

A few years ago, several area property owners put up ropes and sandbags to try to block people from entering springs, Oliverio said.

The state had to step in and tell the property owners that navigable waters are for the public to use so long as a person does not get out of the water and onto the land. Touching the bottom of the spring is allowed.

Florida laws state that any navigable water, such as rivers and the connecting springs, is public, Oliverio said.

Volusia court fight reopens river-withdrawal war

Published Jun. 19, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
The St. Johns River Water Management District is facing new legal fights with three governments about plans for taking water from a St. Johns tributary.

The withdrawal debate has already featured a court fight between the management district, governments of Jacksonville and St. Johns County and the St. Johns Riverkeeper over river withdrawals in Seminole County. The management district won that case, but Jacksonville and the Riverkeeper are appealing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cherokee Sink won't reopen without permit

Published June 10, 2009 - Tallahassee Democrat
The state park service-owned sinkhole was closed by state health officials March 12, after high levels of bacteria were found in the sinkhole's water. Though such closures are routine and usually temporary, the discovery revealed Cherokee Sink never received a "public bathing place" permit, as required of all swimming areas in state parks.

...public restrooms at Cherokee Sink would cost about $200,000 for construction and sewage — and they don't have the money right now.

...31,598 people visited Cherokee Sink last year.

...first time Cherokee Sink has been closed because of water quality since the state began operating it in 2001.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

District to treat water hyacinth and water lettuce on Peace River

Published June 9, 2009 - NewsChief.com
The Southwest Florida Water Management District is treating water hyacinth and water lettuce on portions of the Peace River this week and during the week of June 15-19.

Water hyacinth and water lettuce are troublesome aquatic plants from other countries that were introduced to Florida. Both species have the potential to expand rapidly and cause problems in many other tropical and subtropical countries where they have been introduced.

Can you canoe? 10 local kayak rentals for a summer eco-adventure

Published 6/8/09 - Examiner.com
Below is a list of 10 local canoe and kayak rental companies that will help your family enjoy what the Tampa Bay waterways have to offer.

Weeki Wachee Canoe & Kayak Rental
See the spring-fed Weeki Wachee River from canoes and kayaks. Watch the manatees and other wildlife, go swimming or fishing, have a picnic, or just float along with the current. When you reach the end, you can be brought back upstream by road. $52 per 2-seat canoe or kayak.

Kayaks and Beyond
Kayak and canoe rentals include a color waterproof map of King's Bay and surrounding waterways with icons showing points of interest, a bottle of water, a snack and plenty of friendly service and help. Launch easily right at their shop. It is just a short 10 minute paddle to Three Sister's Springs. Tandem kayaks and canoes $30 for 1-2 hours, $40 for 2-4 hours and $50 for 4 or more hours.

May showers, fertilizer lead to early algae bloom

Published Jun. 8, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
Warm weather after weeks of rain could cause summertime algae blooms to spread across Northeast Florida's rivers and creeks this month.

The slimy green scum is a seasonal feature on the St. Johns, but carries a potential public health concern because the blooms can produce toxins that affect both fish and people.

Runoff from hard rains has made the river darker than normal, which hurts algae by limiting the light it receives, he said.

But that runoff is full of fertilizer and other sources of nitrogen that feeds algae, so big blooms can happen faster.

Wacissa River Race

Posted Jun 7, 2009 - WCTV
About thirty people participate in the Wacissa River Race in Jefferson County on Sunday (6/7)

The race has been held in Wacissa since 1972. Many of the participants are members of the Florida Competition Paddlers Association.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Hundreds snag 14 tons of trash in river cleanup

Published June 07, 2009 - NewsJournalOnline.com
Darrell Abrahamson, a Volusia County environmental specialist who organized the cleanup, said 442 people pre-registered for the event. Volunteers collected about 14 tons of trash at nine sites from Lake Harney in the southern part of the county to Lake George at the northwest tip.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Explore, enjoy Florida

Published June 6, 2009 - Summit Daily News
Crystal River
Crystal River and its proximity to hidden bayous and the Gulf of Mexico is a magnet for boaters and fishing fanatics. Manatee tours are a must when visiting Crystal River. The winter and early spring are the best times to take a manatee tour. Get more information at http://www.manateeswimtours.com

Peace River
The river is a contradiction of shallow and clear and deep and dark. It is also sandy, rocky and a combination of both.

We started our adventure in the town of Arcadia in DeSoto County. There are several places along the river to rent canoes. We chose the Canoe Outpost mainly for their impressive website, http://www.canoeoutpost.com/

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Wacissa River Race

Sunday 6/7/09 River race for kayaks and canoes. 11 miles. Registration at 9 a.m., race at 10 a.m. Wacissa River, State Road 59, Wacissa. 385-4974.

Manatees need more protection from humans, Crystal River advocates say

Published June 6, 2009 - St. Petersburg Times
Nearly 100 business owners, environmentalists and residents packed a community meeting Thursday to talk about how to protect manatees in Crystal River, the only place in the country where the federal government permits swimming with manatees.

The community's ideas will be presented to the full Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission when it meets in Crystal River on June 17 and 18.

Blue Spring freedivers love the sport, but it can be dangerous

Published Jun 5, 2009 -
Freediving is the act of diving on a single breath. As with scuba diving, a mask and fins are used, and there is great potential for underwater exploration. Unlike scuba, however, freedivers don't use air tanks or wet suits. It's human-versus-water on one breath of air.

"People tend to think it’s just about holding your breath," Gelman said. "While that’s part of the equation, there are other vital parts to freediving. Knowing your limits, training your body, knowing how gases react under pressure and how they react when you ascend."

For more information about freediving, visit AIDA International, http://www.aida-international.org, http://www.freedive.net or http://www.sfdj.com

State recognizes June as Florida Rivers Month

Published June 5, 2009 - Pine Island Eagle
Governor Charlie Crist recently signed a proclamation honoring June as Florida Rivers Month, recognizing the importance of protecting the more than 50,000 miles of rivers and streams flowing throughout the state. Florida's famed waterways include the historic Suwannee River made famous by folk musician Stephen Foster, the 310-mile St. Johns River, one of only a few rivers in North America that flows north, and Northwest Florida's Apalachicola River, which helps supply 90 percent of Florida's oysters by feeding Apalachicola Bay.

To provide more information on the state's ongoing efforts to protect its waterways, DEP recently launched an interactive Web site for citizens to learn more about the waterbodies in their communities, the ongoing restoration activities associated with them, and ways each and every one of us can help protect these waters. Visit http://www.ProtectingOurWater.org for more information on Florida's initiative to protect its rivers and streams.

Florida DEP Continues Restoration of Rivers, Lakes, Estuaries

Publlished 06-05-2009 - Wakulla.com
Florida has marked another milestone in its comprehensive strategy to address waterbody restorations around the state. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole has signed three orders identifying waterbodies for water quality improvement goals. The waters identified for restoration include waters in the Group 5, Group 1, and Group 2 basins. Florida’s 52 major basins have been divided into five groups of basins and a five year rotating basin approach is used to monitor and assess waters, to develop and adopt Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for those waters that do not meet their water quality standards, and to develop Basin Management Action Plans, where appropriate, to serve as the blueprint for restoring the impaired waters.

A wave of cool options

Published June 5, 2009 - The Gainesville Sun
Poe Springs rents canoes and kayaks and also has various ball courts to entertain visitors.

About 40 miles northwest of Gainesville is Ichetucknee Springs State Park - a summertime tradition for Gainesville residents. The park gives visitors the option of floating down the Ichetucknee River or swimming in either the head spring or Blue Hole spring.

The tubing season runs until Labor Day, and guests can choose from three-hour, 1 1/2-hour and 45-minute river routes.

Only 750 people are allowed to float down the three-hour route each day, so plan to arrive early if you prefer this option.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Volunteers ready to clean up St. Johns

Published June 04, 2009 - West Volusia News
Hundreds of volunteers are preparing to hit the St. Johns River shoreline this weekend to pick up bottles, cans and other assorted debris that collects among water lilies and cypress trees.

The annual St. Johns River Cleanup, one event in the National River Cleanup Week, takes place Saturday in nine locations along the riverfront in Volusia County.

Weeki Wachee Springs volunteers wash windows, fix tail props for mermaids

Published June 4, 2009 - St. Petersburg Times
Six months after becoming a state park, Weeki Wachee Springs has acquired the help of some 60 volunteers. And marketing director John Athanason says he has lots more applications sitting on his desk.

Water Wars May Take New Direction

Published Jun 4th, 2009 - The Jacksonville Observer
With a new federal administration , a potentially landmark court ruling pending and spring rains swelling the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, Florida could be poised for greater cooperation with Georgia and Alabama in distributing the water they share.

Volunteers needed for Manatee Watch program

Published June 3, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
Volusia County is looking for people interested in joining Manatee Watch, a program that focuses on identifying and monitoring manatees in local waterways.

More information about Manatee Watch is available at http://volusiamanatees.org

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Plunge into safety

Published June 3, 2009 - The Gainesville Sun
The heavy rains that flooded North Florida rivers earlier this year have created unique hazards for boaters, Parker also said. Those flood waters carried debris into the Santa Fe and Suwannee rivers and have caused faster currents.

...there have been no reports of injuries due to sturgeon so far in 2009. "The theory is that the higher the water levels, the less the sturgeon jump," she said. No one has determined why sturgeon jump out of the water.

Commission takes first step to protect area springs

Published June 3, 2009 - Ocala Star-Banner
On Tuesday, the County Commission voted 4-1 for an ordinance establishing stricter regulations on new development and septic tank usage in areas that recharge the major springs in Marion County including Silver and Rainbow, the biggest and fourth-biggest inland springs in Florida, respectively.

The ordinance also says that drought-resistant, "Marion-friendly" landscaping will be planted in areas of new development, and that businesses that can produce hazardous waste will be banned from the primary springs protection zone. Exceptions can apply to some businesses that already meet state environmental requirements.

Saturday lecture on the history of Blue Spring State Park

Published June 3, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
"The water beneath your feet" lecture will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at DeBary Hall Historic Site, 210 Sunrise Blvd.

Bill Hall, an employee with the State Park Division, will address the history, mystery and marvels of Blue Spring State Park, which is a source for drinking water and habitat for hundreds of manatees. He also will share the geology and biology of Blue Spring.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Groveland to Niagara: If you tap aquifer, then take Lake Monroe water, too

Published June 2, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
If Niagara Bottling Co. is allowed to withdraw water from the aquifer in south Lake County for a profit, then the California-based company also should be required to use water from Lake Monroe in Seminole County.

That's what Groveland's attorneys have proposed to an administrative-law judge in their final written arguments submitted as part of an ongoing legal dispute between the city and the water bottler.

Volunteer at Saturday's St. Johns River cleanup

Published June 2, 2009 - Orlando Sentinel
The Lake County Department of Environmental Utilities invites residents to participate in the 13th Annual St. Johns River Cleanup from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Lake County is participating in the event with Volusia County. Of the ten cleanup sites, nine are on the Volusia side of the river. The Lake County site is at the Butler Street Boat Ramp, 55400 Butler St., Astor.

To volunteer, visit http://volusia.org/cleanup/stjohns.htm or contact Bowers, site captain for the Butler Street Boat Ramp, at 352-343-3776.

New jobs or healthy river

Submitted 06/02/2009 (Opinion)
The Jacksonville Port Authority is attempting to kill another great Florida river, the St. Johns. Dredging a natural river went out of favor in the 1970s after the US Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Kissimmee and the Caloosahatchee, and many other Florida rivers. Our generation and future generations is paying the price to "restore" those rivers, as best possible, and it is bankrupting us. It is not about Jacksonville jobs, there are plenty; it is about the quality of the St. Johns.

Florida DEP continues restoration of rivers, lakes, estuaries

Published June 2, 2009 - Pine Island Eagle
Florida has marked another milestone in its comprehensive strategy to address waterbody restorations around the state. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole has signed three orders identifying waterbodies for water quality improvement goals. The waters identified for restoration include waters in the Group 5, Group 1, and Group 2 basins. Florida's 52 major basins have been divided into five groups of basins and a five year rotating basin approach is used to monitor and assess waters, to develop and adopt Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for those waters that do not meet their water quality standards, and to develop Basin Management Action Plans, where appropriate, to serve as the blueprint for restoring the impaired waters.

Free Low Impact Development (LID) Workshop to be Held

Published 06-02-2009 - Wakulla.com
You are cordially invited to a Low Impact Development (LID) Workshop for the Wakulla Springshed on Friday June 12, 2009 at the Wakulla County Extension Office in Crawfordville, Florida. This FREE workshop will focus on protection of springs, surface water and groundwater through the implementation of LID practices in Wakulla, Leon, and Jefferson counties.

Your participation will help make this workshop a success, so mark your calendar and bring your experience, insight, and enthusiasm to the table. Please register as soon as possible, but no later than June 9. For questions about the workshop, send an email to mjkipp@ufl.eduThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it or call (352) 273-0245.

Protecting the springs

Published June 1, 2009
On Tuesday, the County Commission will take up the springs protection ordinance, which was first proposed more than four years ago, nearly died along the way amid complaints from developers, and has now returned as a possible counterargument to heightened state oversight of development near major springs.

The concept of reversing the decades-old decline in the health of Silver and Rainbow springs - respectively the first and fourth-largest non-tidal springs in Florida - first popped up on the commission's radar in March 2005.

Chipola, Apalachicola Rivers Marked for Help

Published 06/01/09
Under the federal Clean Water Act, each state in the nation must identify impaired rivers, lakes and estuaries for clean-up. Science-based pollution limits, called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), are then developed for each impaired waterway. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a specific pollutant a waterbody can absorb and still meet its designated uses, such as fishing, swimming, shellfish harvesting or as a source of drinking water. In 1999, Florida adopted a nationally-recognized program to govern TMDL development and implementation.

Downstream water releases won't affect Lanier for now, corps says

Published June 1, 2009 - Gainesvilletimes.com
An easing of drought conditions has prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to resume normal downstream releases of water previously held in reservoirs during the drought.

The procedure change stems from provisions of a revised interim operating plan for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system that allow slightly less water to be released at Woodruff Dam on the Apalachicola River near the Florida border.

DEP tells Putnam mill to rethink dioxin, other problems

Published Jun. 1, 2009 - The Florida Times-Union
Georgia-Pacific’s paper mill near Palatka must reopen a search for ways to clean its wastewater, especially of cancer-causing dioxin, a state agency said Monday.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s order puts in question the future of a planned pipeline to carry wastewater from the mill to the St. Johns River. It could also obligate the company to begin a costly cleanup of dioxin in holding ponds that help filter wastewater.

Go with the flow on the Little Manatee River

Published June 1, 2009 - Examiner.com
Visitors can experience the river in many different ways, whether they want to be on the river or just next to it. Paddling is probably the most direct route to get close to the water. The Little Manatee River Canoe Trail is five miles of blackwater, full of fun twists and turns as well as birds, otters, alligators, and the occasional manatee. The trail is located about 25 minutes south of Tampa, just off of Hwy 301 near Sun City Center. Regular paddlers can bring their own equipment and find their own put-ins, or newcomers can try a local outfitter like Canoe Outpost to help them with boat rental and shuttle service.

Monday, June 01, 2009

What next for Florida's springs after bill dies?

Published May 31, 2009
To Stevenson, who is coordinator of state working groups for Wakulla Springs and for Ichetucknee Springs near Lake City, the teen's lack of awareness represents the lack of public understanding about springs and the threats to groundwater that flows from the sparkling watery jewels. And he says that lack of understanding is a large part of the reason why an ambitious springs bill died in the recent legislative session.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

State park extends deadline for Nature Academy Summer Camp to June 5

Published 05/30/2009 - Citrus Daily
Park Rangers at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park want hardworking, curious young people to use their senses to solve wildlife mysteries, to use their minds to learn new skills for understanding and appreciating the world around them and to use their imaginations to create stories about the adventures they have while they are here.

Drowning investigated at Blue Spring State Park

Published May 30, 2009 - wdbo.com
A man was free diving around 10:22 a.m. Saturday when Volusia County deputies say he was found under approximately 10 feet of water.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

St. Johns River flooding brings boating restrictions

Published May 29, 2009 - The Gainvesville Sun
Portions of the St. Johns River system have been declared an idle-speed, no-wake zone under an emergency ordinance approved by the Putnam County Commission on Friday

Boating restrictions are in effect from the mouth of Dunns Creek, where it enters the St. Johns River, to past Mimi Lane, as well as the area between Intracoastal Waterway markers 46 and 47, known as Sportsman’s Harbor.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Leaders Beg Governor To Veto Water Bill

Published May 29, 2009 - WFTV
Local leaders are begging the Governor in a two-page letter to Charlie Crist, to veto a law that would allow bottled water companies to drain the aquifer secretly.

Senate bill 2080 is headed to the Governor's desk, which would give water authorities like Saint Johns, permission to give water permits to any company it chooses and they wouldn't have to tell anyone.

With Niagara Bottling on the verge of a permit to pull nearly half-a-million gallons of water per day from the Floridian Aquifer near Groveland, a proposed state law would prevent the public from fighting them.

5 cheap things to do in Tampa Bay with your kids this summer

Published May 29, 2009 - St. Petersburg Times
Ride an inner tube on the Rainbow River in Dunnellon or Ocala's Silver Springs, the setting for the cheesetastic 1954 horror movie Creature from the Black Lagoon.

You can rent a canoe to put the whole family in the same boat for less than $50. Ray's Canoe Hideaway in Bradenton rents their rides along the Manatee River; it's only $31.95 for a full day, $26.63 for four hours on a beautiful, gentle river. Call (941) 747-3909 or go to rayscanoehideaway.com.

Upcoming meetings on human/manatee interaction in Crystal River

Published May 29, 2009 - The Gainesville Sun
An upcoming meeting in Crystal River will feature information about human and manatee interaction in the area. The meeting will be held on June 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Plantation Golf Resort & Spa, 9301 West Fort Island Trail, in Crystal River.

For a copy of the meeting’s agenda, send an e-mail to manatee.interaction@MyFWC.com.