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Monday, December 31, 2012

Restoring Silver Springs: It’s a regional challenge

Published 12/30/2012 Ocala.com
On Dec. 11, the Governing Board of the St. Johns River Water Management District held the fourth and final meeting concerning their new Springs Protection Initiative. 

Average flows at Silver Springs during the past decade are reduced by 32 percent compared to the average of the previous 70 years, and down by 50 percent during the past two years. Silver Springs also is suffering from nitrate-nitrogen concentrations more than 25 times higher than historic levels, a result of excessive fertilizer use and inadequate treatment of human and animal wastes.

However, the district’s own data show that groundwater pumping from the Floridan Aquifer exceeds 1.2 billion gallons each day, which is groundwater that otherwise would have flowed to the springs.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Obstacles don't lessen as Ochlockonee River adventure concludes

Published 12/26/2012 Tampa Bay Times
The Ochlockonee, one of Florida's last great wilderness rivers, starts in Georgia and flows for more than 150 miles south through national and state forests to the Gulf of Mexico.


The Lower Ochlockonee, a designated state paddling trail, starts at a point on State Road 20 in the Panhandle and ends 65 miles downstream at Ochlockonee River State Park. The river is considered an "easy to moderate" paddle, ideal for "beginners," but my small crew of veteran watermen had found it challenging at best, and in some parts downright disheartening.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Published 12/23/2012 The Gainesville Sun (Opinion)

As director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, Knight is perhaps Florida's most knowledgeable, and eloquent, spokesman on behalf of Florida's increasingly stressed springs, rivers and aquifers.

Most residents don't even know Glen Springs exists; it has long been hidden away behind the Elks Lodge on Northwest 23rd Avenue, neglected, algae-filled and lined with concrete; a legacy from days long past when Glen Springs was the city's only public swimming pool.
http://www.gainesville.com/article/20121223/OPINION01/121229916/-1/entertainment?Title=Editorial-Our-lost-gem">Source

Friday, December 21, 2012

Given the option, all 19 counties vote not to inspect septic tanks

Published 12/20/2012 The Florida Current (Brief)
All 19 counties that were required to take action on septic tank inspections under a bill passed by the Legislature last spring have voted to opt out of the requirement, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Source

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Florida's springs face crisis from pollution, declining flows

Published 12/17/2012 Orlando Sentinel
Scientists first noted the problem decades ago, but now there is growing dismay at what is happening. Of the more than 1,000 springs statewide, the biggest and most popular are tourist attractions and recreational magnets that, until recently, were presumed safeguarded within public lands, including 16 state parks named after the "best of the best" springs they protect.

Joe Hand, who retired recently after 35 years with the state Department of Environmental Protection, where he was a top water-quality analyst, assembled for the Sentinel a series of data graphics that illustrate the striking changes that have occurred at four springs — Ichetucknee, Rainbow, Silver and Wekiwa — during the past decade.
Source

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Health of Warm Mineral Springs adds to debate

Published 12/4/2012 Herald-Tribune
The last intensive study of Warm Mineral Springs, in 2002, predicted its flow would decrease 20 percent by 2020.

Warm Mineral Springs, the largest spring of its kind in Florida, has long been a draw for those who believe in the healing powers of dozens of minerals present in the water. The amenities, which include an aging spa building, draw 80,000 to 100,000 visitors each year despite little formal advertising.
Source

Monday, December 03, 2012

What's Florida's water worth?

Published 12/2/2012 Ocala.com
A needed reminder of just how important Florida’s water is came this month in a new report, “Valuing Florida’s Clean Waters,” detailing just how polluted our lakes, rivers, streams and seashores have become. 

A needed reminder of just how important Florida’s water is came this month in a new report, “Valuing Florida’s Clean Waters,” detailing just how polluted our lakes, rivers, streams and seashores have become. 

A 2010 assessment by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection found that 53 percent of Florida’s rivers and 82 percent of its lakes were polluted to the point of “impairment.” 
Source

Sunday, December 02, 2012

EPA tells judge it will impose stricter water pollution standards on Florida

Published 12/1/2012 Tampa Bay Times
The Sierra Club, Florida Wildlife Federation and other environmental groups had sued the EPA four years ago over the most persistent water pollution problem in Florida — one that the federal agency had first told the state to do something about in 1998.

Late Friday night, the EPA said in a news release that it had approved the state rules for part of the state's waterways, but would still impose the federal rules for the rest. According to David Guest of Earthjustice, that means the state rules cover only 15 percent while the new federal rules cover 85 percent — about 100,000 miles of waterways.
Source

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Report: Florida's Water Pollution Costs $10.5 Billion, Annually

Published Nov 2012 Public News Service
Florida's water-pollution problem is costing the state more than $10 billion every year, according to an independent reportreleased Wednesday.

The Stockholm Environment Institute analyzed the impact of statewide problems such as algae and red-tide outbreaks.

Link to full report 
http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/ValuingFloridasCleanWaters.pdf
Source

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Florida Springs, Aquifer, And Drinking Water In Environmental Crisis (VIDEO)

Posted: 11/26/2012
Florida's "blue gold" -- the underground fresh water aquifer -- are at risk for drying up completely due to politics and Florida's massive water usage and environmental shortsightedness.

...the state's nearly 1,000 pristine springs -- contribute $300 million annually in tourism and connect the longest and deepest underwater cave system in the world -- it's also the very same source of Florida's drinking water.

State conservationists have resorted to independent research initiatives such as the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute to keep on top of the environmental crisis even without state funding.
Source

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Florida Springs, Aquifer, And Drinking Water In Environmental Crisis (VIDEO)

Published 11/26/2012 Huffington Post
Meanwhile, the biggest threats to the state's aquifers go unchecked: leaky septic tanks, excess fertilizer, and livestock waste raise pollution levels to 100 times the legal limit; and flow is diminished by groundwater withdrawals that reached 4.2 billion gallons a day in 2005.

You have people that are benefiting at the expense of the whole public, and the public is not organized, aware, or well-funded enough to do anything about it.”
Source

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Valuing Florida’s Clean Waters

November 13, 2012 Earthjustice.org

In 1998 the EPA adopted the Clean Water Action Plan, which stated that excessive nutrient
pollution results in greater than expected growth of macrophytes or phytoplankton, and
potentially harmful algae blooms or outbreaks leading to declining oxygen levels, an imbalance
among aquatic species, public health risks, and a general degradation of the aquatic resource.
The “Key Action” for addressing nutrient over-enrichment was a requirement that states
develop and implement numeric limits on the amount of so-called “nutrients” – phosphorus
and nitrogen – allowed in waterbodies by the year 2004. If a state failed to do so, the EPA
would establish criteria for them. As of 2008 the state of Florida had implemented just one such
standard.

Source (PDF)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bay County Could Opt Out of Controversial State Septic Tank Inspection Law

Published Jun 13, 2012
Jackson County commissioners voted to opt-out of the state's controversial new septic tank inspection law. Bay County commissioners may be next.
Only those counties with a first magnitude spring. Bay County is one of 19 counties with a first magnitude spring, so county commissioners have to opt-out of the law for septic tank owners to avoid inspections.
Source

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Mermaids, Sponge Divers, and Optimists

Published 6/8/2012
First stop: Weeki Wachee Springs, located at the intersection of SR 50 and old US 19, once the principle north-south artery along Florida’s west coast. Geologically speaking, Weeki Wachee is a first magnitude spring, the largest in Florida and perhaps the world. Each day, 177 million gallons of pure water gush from the source, forming the Weeki Wachee River that then flows 12 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. In 2007, divers from the Karst Underwater Research Team explored the spring and attained a depth of 407 feet, but never reached the bottom.
Source

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Jumping sturgeon attacks woman on Florida river

Published June 6, 2012
Brianne Megargel and her husband were near Manatee Springs State Park when the fish jumped out of the water and struck her as she sat in the boat.
Source

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Magnificent Morrison Springs

Published June 5, 2012 Florida Sportsman
One of Northwest Florida’s best-kept secrets is known to more Georgia and Alabama folks than Floridians. And they aren’t talking. It has to do with a jewel of a Panhandle spring, a turquoise pool surrounded by stately cypress trees whose aerial roots stand taller than a man. Below the surface, clear, 68-degree water wells up from a spring cave source over 90 feet deep.

Some Florida springs are choked with hydrilla, a non-native, invasive weed. Up until 1990 that was a problem at Morrison. The state put in an herbicide to try to kill it. The owners raked and bulldozed. Nothing dented it. Then a levee broke on the upper river system bringing down enough muddy water to raise the level of the pool over 28 feet. When the water fell, the hydrilla had failed to get sunlight for so long that it perished. No longer is it a plague. Hopefully, native grasses will soon return. Beneficial vegetation shelters grass shrimp for the local fish population, and helps keep the water clear by filtering out sediments.
Source

Monday, June 04, 2012

June an outdoor extravaganza

Published 6/3/2012 ChipleyBugle
June is celebrated across the nation as Great Outdoors Month. http://www.GetOutdoorsFlorida.org

FWC is celebrating its third paddling trail being designated as part of the national trails system on June 2 at Wacissa River County Park, Jefferson County. Come out and join the fun from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Source

John Moran: Requiem for Poe Springs

Published June 3, 2012 The Gainesville Sun - Opinion
I went to the Our Santa Fe River, Inc. informational public meeting on the algae outbreak and low flow water conditions on the Santa Fe River on May 29th at Poe Springs County Park. I remember Poe Springs, clear, vital and free flowing; devoid of the stench of death that hangs in the air tonight. I had no idea that this signature park of Alachua County was in such ill health.
Source

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Santa Fe, a river in peril

Published 6/2/2012 The Alachua Today
During a public information meeting about the Santa Fe River held at Poe Springs on Tuesday, Megan Wetherington, Senior Professional Engineer at SRWMD, said the river will hardly see an increase in levels or flow because the surrounding areas were so dry. Like a sponge, those dry areas will soak up the water before it reaches the river. Prior to Beryl, Florida had record low water levels, Wetherington said.
Recently, the Alachua County Health Department identified an algal bloom on the Santa Fe River between the U.S Highway 27 bridge and Poe Springs. The water samples it collected contained the algae Anabaena circinalis, a known producer of toxins. In Florida, there are no records of the algae producing these toxins, but David Whiting of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said scientists are unsure what causes the algae toxin producers to turn on and off. An algae bloom in Leon County’s Lake Munson produced high levels of toxin one year, but the next year, no toxins were present.

Source

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

State launches septic tank website

Published 5/22/2012 Citrus Daily
he Florida Department of Health (DOH) on Friday unveiled a new web site designed to assist localities on the new septic tank requirements outlined in House Bill 1263.

Local governments where there is a first magnitude spring must either adopt the evaluation program by passing a local ordinance or opt out by a vote of the governing board.

The website is located at http://myfloridaeh.com/septictanksystems/ If you have questions, call your county or city commission or your local County Health Department and request information about septic tank inspections.
Source

Sonny Vergara: Don't be silent about Florida's water crisis

Published May 23, 2012 The Gainesville Sun (Opinion)
While one can hear the wailing of those with a particular emotional appreciation for Florida's natural environment, the silence from the majority of Floridians is deafening. Have they become numb to the reality that these unique natural treasures are being taken from them and have simply given up hope that anything can be done to stop it?

"Glass-Bottom Boat Tours over the spring basin have become the exception rather than the rule in recent years. Tea-stained or green water impedes the penetration of light needed to view the impressive features of the 120-foot-deep chasm of Wakulla Spring. Heavy rains, combined with other unknown factors, are thought to be the cause of decreased visibility."

Source

Monday, May 21, 2012

Point of View: Commercial, lawn pumping drying up Florida's springs

Published May 20, 2012 Florida Times-Union
The absence of normal rainfall in north central Florida has revealed an inconvenient truth — there is little water left in the aquifer to maintain the baseflow of our springs. As long as we have average rainfall, the springs keep flowing and it is easier to believe that long-term flow declines in our springs are just a response to a variable rainfall cycle.

But strip away normal rain and what is left? The lowest flows ever recorded in Silver and Rainbow springs, just to mention two of the most famous springs in the state.

Beginning in 1985, Silver Springs’ average annual flow began to decline at a faster rate than the flow at Rainbow Springs. As a consequence of this accelerated flow decline, in 1998 Silver Springs lost its dominance over Rainbow Springs.

Source

Friday, May 18, 2012

Great Suwannee River Race

Published May 17, 2012 Suwannee Democrat
Homemade rafts some made from “recycled” products will race from Little River Spring to Branford on the Suwannee River in south Suwannee County, Saturday, May 19. Rafts are constructed in such a way that six team members fit wholly onboard with no extremities touching the water, and no mechanical propellers are allowed. The rafts launch at 10 a.m.

The race, under the leadership of Race Director John Hill and his team of Kiwanians and Rotarians, is in its third year. The Kiwanis Club of Live Oak and the Rotary Club of Live Oak sponsor the races with participation by the Town Council of Branford and other local groups.
Source

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Water-issue protesters greet UF's Stronach center dedication

Published 5/15/2012 Gainesville Sun
As officials dedicated the facility, dozens of protesters outside the gates picketed against Stronach's bid for a permit to pump more than 13 million gallons of groundwater a day for a cattle operation he plans near Fort McCoy.

"We've got a deficit here that we're not going to make up if we keep issuing new permits," said Robert Knight, director and founder of the H.T. Odum Florida Springs Institute in Gainesville.
Source

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How a Lost Rope Swing Captures Everything Wrong with Water Policy

Published May 14, 2012
...when the local water authorities quite literally cut down the rope swing your kids use to plunge themselves into a peaceful, slow-moving Florida river? When officials tell you it’s to protect the river your kids have so enjoyed plunging into over and over? That they are, in fact, protecting the river from your kids?

The same state that cut down the rope swing out over the Suwannee River last year allowed a new permit for a power plant in Jacksonville to take 163 million gallons of water a day from the same river system — that’s 6.8 million gallons of water an hour, enough for a city of 1.5 million people.

Cynthia Barnett is the author of a book about water in Florda, Mirage, and last fall a second book, Blue Revolution, which is about the need for a whole new attitude about water in the U.S., a new water ethic.
Source

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lead letter: Silver Springs water must be protected

Published May 13, 2012 The Florida-Times Union
This first magnitude spring flows from the aquifer into the Silver River before converging with the Ocklawaha River (a State Aquatic Preserve and Florida Outstanding Water), the largest tributary of the St. Johns River (an American Heritage River.
Source

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Video: Suwannee River rushes into White Sulphur Spring

Published March 17, 2012 Suwannee Democrat
In the 1800s, the sulphur spring was promoted as a cure for just about any ailment and visitors came to swim in the healing waters. After a log hotel was built beside the spring it became a popular health resort and one of Florida's first tourist destinations. In the late 1800s, 14 luxury hotels, as well as other boarding houses in the area, accommodated the visitors who arrived by special excursion train.
Source

Beware flying sturgeons in the Suwanee River, warn state officials

Published May 11, 2012
A 31-year-old Old Town man was injured Friday when a sturgeon that had jumped out of the Suwannee River in front of his boat hit him.

This is first sturgeon strike in 2012, according to Major Roy Brown, regional commander of the FWC's North Central Region.

The Suwannee River supports a large population of Gulf sturgeon, 10,000-14,000 fish averaging approximately 40 pounds each.
Source

Friday, May 11, 2012

Alachua County not represented on water districts' “stakeholder” group

Published May 10, 2012 The Gainesville Sun
The historic lows of rivers, lakes and springs in the two districts and public concerns that groundwater pumping in Northeast Florida was affecting water bodies and groundwater levels in the more rural Suwannee district led the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the two water management districts to formalize an agreement in September to work more closely on water issues.

Under their North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership, the districts will work cooperatively in planning and permitting decisions, use shared science and processes in setting minimum flows and levels — or mfls — for water bodies and coordinate efforts on restoring water bodies that do not meet those mfls.

Source

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Home to Weeki Wachee Spring, Hernando County opts out of septic tank inspections

Published May 9, 2012 Tampa Bay Times
The County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to opt out of a state mandate that requires counties and municipalities with large springs to adopt an inspection ordinance. Hernando County is home to Weeki Wachee Spring, one of 33 first-magnitude springs in Florida.

"If we contaminate the groundwater beneath a septic tank, that water is flowing toward a neighbor or toward a river," Stevenson said. "Sometimes, when something's political like septic tanks, you have to take baby steps, and one of the first steps is raising homeowner awareness."
Source

Wakulla's park in need has Friends in deed

Published May 9, 2012 Tallahassee Democrat
Begun in 1996, the Friends group has tirelessly fought to protect and clean the aquifer feeding the springs. It helped to defeat a proposed water bottling plant nearby and it has pushed back efforts to open a large RV campground near the springs. In many ways, the Friends group is the conscience and voice for the park since park personnel are often constrained from taking sides on issues.
Source

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Canadian water bottling company buys former Coca-Cola plant in Gilchrist

Published May 4, 2012 The Gainesville Sun
The company purchased the plant, at 7100 NE CR 340, for $8.5 million, according to Gilchrist County records.

Ice River Springs will purchase water from the Seven Springs Water Company, which has an existing permit from the Suwannee River Water Management District to pump an average of 1.15 million gallons per day from wells at Ginnie Springs.
Source

Hernando poised to become first county to opt out of septic tank inspections

Published 05/07/2012
Hernando County is poised to become the first county to opt out of requiring septic tank inspections under HB 1263.

The 19 counties with the largest "first-magnitude" springs (with flows exceeding 64.6 million gallons per day) are required to conduct limited inspections unless they first opt out by Jan. 1, 2013

Conventional septic tanks, he said, do little to prevent nitrogen from reaching groundwater, regardless of whether they are operating properly. He said fertilizer use is a larger culprit in causing springs to become choked with algae, along with excessive pumping that threatens the future flow of groundwater to springs.
Source

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

County may flush septic rule

May 2, 2012 Tampa Bay Times
Two years ago, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill requiring septic tanks to be inspected once every five years. This past session the Legislature repealed the law.

There was a caveat, though. Counties and municipalities with first magnitude springs would still be required to adopt a septic tank inspection ordinance unless the local governing bodies voted by a super majority to opt out of that requirement.
Source

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Editorial: Way down on the Suwannee

Published April 30, 2012 Ocala.com
The evidence is mounting that over-pumping — both in the Suwannee district and in the neighboring St. Johns River district — is steadily lowering aquifer levels and all but destroying once-healthy springs. Even a return to “normal” rainfall won’t erase that pumping deficit.
Source

Paul Clark: One Man, Many Springs

By Eleanor K. Sommer Posted on April 3, 2012
Recent article about my work documenting the Florida Springs.
Source

5-year septic tank inspection mandate eliminated

Published April 30, 2012 HistoricCity News
Historic City News reporters learned that a controversial statewide septic tank mandate, passed by the Florida Legislature in 2010, was eliminated when Governor Rick Scott signed HB-1263 into law Friday; over objections from the Sierra Club, who requested a veto.

Of Florida’s more than 700 recognized springs, only 33 discharge more than 64 million gallons of water per day; qualifying them as “first magnitude springs”. Of those springs, located in nineteen Florida counties, none is located in St Johns County.
Source

Friday, April 27, 2012

May 15 Forum to Address Threats to Silver Springs and St. Johns River

Published April 27, 2012 Florida Sportsman Newswire
On Tuesday, May 15 at 6 p.m., St. Johns Riverkeeper, Silver Springs Alliance, and Florida Springs Institute will be hosting a forum to discuss the current threats to Silver Springs and the declining health of many of our springs, lakes, and rivers in North Florida.

The forum will be held at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk. It’s open and free to the public.

Map and Directions: http://g.co/maps/n6rm6

This first magnitude spring flows from the aquifer into the Silver River before converging with the Ocklawaha River, the largest tributary of the St. Johns River. Long-term flows in the Silver River have declined by more than 30 percent, and water from the aquifer that feeds Silver Springs is polluted with nitrate nitrogen, the result of excessive fertilizer use and insufficient wastewater management.
Source

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Record low flows and levels may bring water shortage order

Published 4/25/2012 The Gainesville Sun The extended drought continues to plummet the region's springs, rivers, lakes and groundwater levels to historic lows.

Now, the Suwannee River Water Management District is mulling a potential water shortage order that would place more stringent restrictions on watering and irrigation for residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial users.

The annual flow along the Santa Fe River for the past 12 months was the lowest for any year-long span since data first were collected in 1927, Wetherington said.

Near Bronson, Levy Blue Spring, historically a third-magnitude spring, stopped flowing in late March.

A county summary of a groundwater pumping report the U.S. Geological Survey releases every five years showed that, in 2005, some 782 million gallons per day were pumped from the aquifer in 22 North Florida counties.
Source

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Friends of Wakulla Springs to Host Annual Wakulla Springs 5K Run in May

Published 16 April 2012
The Friends of Wakulla springs State Park presents the 2012 Wakulla Springs 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Run to be held on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at Wakulla Springs State Park.

This unique run winds through The Sanctuary, a wilderness area of Wakulla Springs State Park which is not open to the general public.

Source

Monday, March 19, 2012

Robert L. Knight: Save the Santa Fe (Editorial)

Published March 18, 2012 The Gainesville Sun
The Santa Fe River and springs are among the most accessible nature-based recreational destinations in the region. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced the adoption of a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) that is intended to restore the water quality in the Santa Fe River and the springs that nourish it.
Source

Thursday, March 15, 2012

FLOW in early stages of organization

Published March 14, 2012 Suwannee Democrat In its early stages of development, FLOW, or Florida Leaders Organized for Water, are doing just that, getting organized. Dinges announced that the minimum flow levels for the lower Santa Fe River and its priority springs, Ichetucknee River and the head springs of the Ichetucknee should be done by this summer. He said they have begun work on the upper Suwannee River, Suwannee Springs and White Sulfur Springs. Source

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tubing down the river: Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Published March 13, 2012 Palm Beach Post
From the end of May until early September, tubing down the river is the primary activity.

That's not the only activity, however. Picnic, snorkel, canoe, swim, hike - you can even scuba dive in the Blue Hole, if you're cave-certified.
Source

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Septic inspections on the way out

Published March 09, 2012 NewsHerald.com
On Friday, the final day of the legislative session, Florida lawmakers repealed 2010’s mandatory septic tank inspections for all but 19 Florida counties. The remaining counties, including Bay County, can opt out of the state regulation with a 60 percent vote of the County Commission, and Bay County commissioners have said they support the repeal.
Source

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Blue Springs (Jackson County, FL)

Cave diving is popular on the pond year round. Up until 2008 cave diving was restricted at Blue Spring during the hours it was open to the public in the summer. The county lifted that rule and opened the park to cave divers 24/7. In 2010 they placed key pad on the gate so visitors just have to enter the key code to open the gate. Access is $25 per day or $150 per year. Or you can access the spring, as well as the other 7 springs by boat by using one of the boat launches along the pond.

The pond has 3 boat launches along its length. Baptism Launch is the one closest to the head spring and is located at the end of Day Loop Rd, just before the entrance to Blue Spring park. Baptism Launch is a primitive launch and does not allow for launching trailered boats. Hunter Fish Camp Launch is located about 3 miles south of Baptism Launch, right across from Gator Hole. It is a paved launch. Be careful though! When the water level is about a foot low your motor prop will hit the bottom so keep it up. The third launch is located at Arrowhead Campground which is right at the dam. There’s a small fee to launch a boat from this ramp.
Source

House passes bill repealing septic tank inspection requirement

Published 02/29/2012
The Florida House on Wednesday approved a bill that would repeal a statewide septic tanks inspection requirement.
Source

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Local artists recognized with Lifetime Art Achievement awards

February 27, 2012 The Gainesville Sun
Artists Annie Pais and Margaret Ross Tolbert have worked in many projects under their separate belts but share a common passion for issues regarding Florida's springs both through their art and in other work.

To raise awareness of water issues, especially those affecting the freshwater springs, Pais created The Blue Path campaign. The campaign's website points to overpumping, reduced flow, and high nutrient level as causes for spring degradation
Source

Friday, February 24, 2012

Eric Draper: Fix last year's water supply mistakes (Editorial)

Published February 23, 2012
Last year the Legislature and Governor Rick Scott cut more than $700 million from the state's five water management districts. Hundreds of scientists, regulators, land managers and support staff were let go.

Financing our blue and green infrastructure, as water resources are often called, is just as important as roads, schools and health care.
Source

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Manatees return to newly cleaned Fanning Springs

Published February 17, 2012 The Gainesville Sun A project to clean up Fanning Springs to attract manatees was completed around Jan. 20 at a cost of about $90,000. Ron Mezich, a biologist with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said that removing sediment from the bottom of the springs allows more room for the manatees to get out of the colder Suwannee River water and into the 72-degree spring water. The cleaning at Fanning Springs started in early November 2011 after erosion caused sediment to collect at the bottom of the spring, creating shallow areas. Source

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Access to Okefenokee Swamp reopening as Honey Prairie Fire shows no signs of life

Published February 21, 2012
The Suwannee River Sill, an earthen dam near the west entrance to the Okefenokee National Refuge and Stephen C. Foster State Park, will reopen today to driving, hiking, bicycling and fishing, said Arthur Webster, supervisory ranger for the refuge

Also, campers may begin making reservations today for overnight stays along the swamp’s canals beginning March 1 at Coffee Bay, Canal Run and Mixons Hammock. Reservations may be made only by calling (912) 496-3331 between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Trips will be limited to a single night and no walk-ups will be accepted.
Source

Conservationists File Suit To Remove Dam

Published 21 February 2012 eNews Park Forest
Earthjustice filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue the U.S. Forest Service today to protect imperiled manatees and shortnose sturgeon, two species which are blocked from migrating in the Ocklawaha River by a dam operated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that turns a 16-mile stretch of the river into the unnatural Rodman Impoundment.

The dam was part of a long-abandoned federal project called the Cross Florida Barge Canal, which intended to connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico. Although that project was halted by President Richard Nixon back in 1971, the dam has stayed in place, impounding the Ocklawaha and flooding 9,000 acres of floodplain forest, including approximately 600 acres in the Ocala National Forest.
Source

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Regional water group may lead the battle over water use

Published February 18, 2012 The Gainesville Sun
The group, now called Florida Leaders Organized for Water (FLOW), had its genesis in Lake City one late November evening when hundreds descended on a joint meeting called by the county commissioners of Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee counties to air concerns and anger that groundwater pumping in the Jacksonville area had sucked down the levels of springs, rivers and lakes in what was once water-rich rural North Florida.

...in an effort to speak with one voice on water issues at a time when White Sulphur Springs has run dry, the flow in Ichetucknee Springs and the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers is are down to record lows in some areas, and the groundwater area feeding the Suwannee district had shrank significantly.
Source

Monday, February 13, 2012

Overpumped

Published February 12, 2012 Ocala.com (Opinion)
As director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), I have serious concerns about the existing degraded conditions at Silver Springs due to longstanding reductions in flows and increases in nitrate nitrogen. Granting the Adena Springs Ranch water-use permit, which will increase overall water uses and increase nitrogen loads in the Silver Springs recharge basin, is not in the best interest of the springs or the affected public.

Silver Springs is probably the largest and best-known spring in Florida and the United States. Silver Springs is currently imperiled due to significant flow reductions, resulting in part from human groundwater withdrawals, and highly elevated groundwater nitrate nitrogen concentrations due to fertilizer and wastewater management in the 1,200-square-mile springshed.

The requested permit would allow the withdrawal of up to 13.27 million gallons per day from wells drilled into the underlying Floridan aquifer. There is evidence throughout Marion County and North Florida that this aquifer is already being overdrawn. This evidence includes declining water levels in water management district monitoring wells, declining lake and river levels throughout the region and declining spring flows in all monitored springs located outside of the Ocala National Forest.
Source

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Footage of Freediving Florida Springs

Published February 10, 2012 - Florida Sportsman Diving in Florida isn’t restricted to the saltwater. Florida’s freshwater springs offer good visibility and warm temps when the weather in winter blows out the nearshore and offshore spots. Source

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Florida Water Star Program Now Available Statewide

Published February 8, 2012 Water World
The St. Johns River Water Management District's residential water conservation program -- Florida Water StarSM -- is now offered statewide, bringing the economic and environmental benefits of water efficiency to homeowners in all of Florida's 67 counties.

Launched in 2006 by the St. Johns District, Florida Water StarSM encourages water efficiency in household appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes. Having the Florida Water StarSM designation can save money on homeowners' utility bills while protecting the state's shared water resources.
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Editorial: 13 million gallons of water a day!

Published February 8, 2012 Ocala.com (Editorial) ...Adena Springs Ranch is seeking permission to pump 13 million gallons of water a day, but it is highly unlikely the full permitted amount would ever actually be pumped; that rain would be the principal source of irrigation for the 10,000-acre cattle operation. For years we have been told that endless granting of water pumping permits had no negative impact on the aquifer, that any drop in the water table was due to drought. Yet, an analysis by the Florida Springs Institute shows that while Silver Springs’ flow has declined by 50 percent since 1965, area rainfall totals have only dropped by 15 percent. It is not all drought. Source

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Who gets the water, cows or our springs?

Published 2/6/2012
A Canadian billionaire is planning a massive cattle operation in Marion County. The cattle will be strictly grass fed, and that grass will need lots of water.

The ranch is asking the St. Johns River Water Management District for permission of pump 13.27 million gallons of water a day out of the Floridan aquifer.
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Sunday, February 05, 2012

Springs savers

Published February 4, 2012 Ocala.com
The Silver Springs Restoration Alliance held its first meeting on Jan. 18 in Ocala, led by longtime Silver Springs researcher Bob Knight, head of the Florida Springs Institute at UF. Knight has been studying and loving our environmental crown jewel since he was a doctoral student at UF in the 1970s.

The goal of the group is to form a group of “citizens who wish to help influence all decisions, government and private, that might offset the health of the springs into the future.”

They know what Jim Stevenson, known as Florida’s “Mr. Springs,” meant when he said our springs are “windows to the aquifer;” that whatever the health of our springs, so goes the aquifer.
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Saturday, February 04, 2012

DEP to draft plan for diving at spring

Published 2/3/2012 Tallahassee Democrat
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will press ahead with a draft plan to allow limited recreational cave diving at Wakulla Spring. Florida Park Service Assistant Director Scott Robinson stressed Thursday.
Source Broken Link

Thursday, February 02, 2012

CS/CS/SB 820: Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems

Published 2/1/2012 Northescambia.com SB 820, which is sponsored by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, would direct cities or counties that have what are known as “first magnitude” springs to develop septic-tank evaluation programs — though those local governments also could vote not to carry out the requirement. A similar measure (HB 999) has cleared one House committee. Follow Bill in the Florida Legislature Source of article

SRWMD provides 183 miles of trails to explore

Published 2/1/2012 Suwannee Democrat
All District hiking trails are free and open to the public. Following is a list of some of the best hiking opportunities:

Columbia County: Bell Springs, Falling Creek Falls, Little Shoals, and Gar Pond
Hamilton County: Big Shoals, Holton Creek, White Springs Tract, and Camp Branch
Lafayette County: Owens Spring
Madison County: Ellaville Tract, Black Tract, Mill Creek North, and Mill Creek South
Suwannee County: Anderson Springs
Taylor County: Cabbage Grove, and Steinhatchee Falls
Maps to each of the above tracts are available under the Best Recreational Opportunities link on the District’s website at www.mysuwanneeriver.com/recreation. For more information, contact Edwin McCook at 386.362.1001 or recreation@srwmd.org.
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