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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Farmers to reform practices for springs

Published 11/16/2013
A bill passed by the Florida Legislature in December 2012 mandated septic evaluations for 19 counties and three cities in the state with "first magnitude" springs - including Hernando County and Weeki Wachee - but it included an opt-out option that effectively removed whatever teeth the law had.

The county isn't alone in the clean-up effort. In September, Gov. Rick Scott announced 10 water quality and spring improvement projects, leveraged from multimillion-dollar investments from the Florida Families First Budget, DEP funding and local partners for a total of nearly $37 million.

One of these projects was for the Rainbow, Kings Bay, Homosassa, Chassahowitzka and Weeki Wachee springs group, referred to collectively as "The Springs Coast."
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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Jackson Blue: A cool respite

Published July 8, 2013
Jackson Blue Springs Recreational Area is open for swimming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The park includes picnic pavilions, benches and grills along with tube, paddleboat and canoe rentals. Two floating docks enclose the swimming area while leaving an opening to the main water used for boating and fishing. People snorkel, swim and dive under the watchful eyes of lifeguards.

In the late 1990s, the State of Florida purchased the 202-acre reservoir that makes up the Jackson Blue Springs Recreational Area and Merritt’s Mill Pond along with nearby Spring Creek Park, located south of Highway 90 across from Merritt’s Mill Pond. Management of the properties went to Jackson County under a lease agreement with the state.

There are actually four cave systems and springs in the boundaries of the park. Jackson Blue Springs is the largest. It produces 120 million gallons of water per day and is one of 34 first magnitude springs in Florida. (A first magnitude spring produces at least 65 million gallons of water per day.) It is the primary spring that feeds Merritt’s Mill Pond, which feeds into Spring Creek and eventually the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers. The Jackson Blue Springs cave system was known to go back 7,000 feet until local diver and Cave Adventurers owner Edd Sorenson discovered a passage that goes back to 15,000 feet.

Along with Jackson Blue Springs are Shangri-La Springs (a second magnitude spring), Indian Washtub and Twin Caves each with their own cave systems.
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Sunday, June 02, 2013

St. Johns River, springs highlight June forum

Published: Saturday, June 1, 2013 Daytona Beach News-Journal
A forum to discuss issues affecting the St. Johns River and its tributaries and springs will take place in Jacksonville in June.

The second annual springs forum, sponsored by the St. Johns Riverkeeper, will take place 6-8 p.m. June 17 at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk, 1515 Prudential Drive, Jacksonville.

To report fish kills, call the state fish kill hot line at 800-636-0511. To report algae blooms on the St. Johns, email algae@sjrwmd.com. Lisa Rinaman, the Riverkeeper, asks that details and photos also be emailed to her at lisa@stjohnsriverkeeper.org
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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Why It's Important to Protect Our Springs

Published May 31, 2013
That's why the agency invested more than $2.2 million in springs protection and restoration last year and has approved $3.9 million more for the coming fiscal year, SFWMD spokesperson Susanna Martinez Tarokh explains in one of her latest blogs on Patch.
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

What we think: State officials fiddling while the Wekiva dies

Published May 29, 2013 Orlando Sentinel(Opinion)
On a recent visit to the once pristine, now algae-fouled river — led by the St. Johns River Water Management District — Sentinel environmental reporter Kevin Spear asked officials if they were alarmed by the condition of the waterway that runs between Orange, Seminole and Lake counties.

Leaders in the Florida Legislature have been patting themselves on the back lately for including $10 million to protect and restore springs in the $74 billion state budget that lawmakers passed this month. But the money for springs represents less than 10 percent of the $122 million that the five water districts estimated would be needed for a comprehensive springs plan.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

$10M set aside for springs stirs hope and discussion

Published 5/27/2013 The Gainesville Sun
"No money is going to do any good if we don't have maximum daily load numbers for nitrates and basin management action plans," Wray said. "We need accurate models and serious science to support an action plan that's realistic about our goals for having a healthy ecosystem."

Lesley Gamble, a partner in the "springs eternal project," a collaborative effort among scientists, artists and activists to promote and protect the springs, added that the nitrate levels for all springs — mainly from large-scale agriculture, leaky septic systems and animal waste — greatly exceed healthy levels.
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer starts Saturday at Blue Springs

Published 5/22/2013 Jackson County Floridan
The Blue Springs Recreational Area in Marianna will open its 2013 season on Saturday. The Jackson County Parks Department says the facility will be open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, for the full season.

Blue Springs Recreational Area admission is $2 per person; season passes are $20 for Jackson County residents ($30 for out-of-county residents). The park is located at 5461 Blue Springs Road, Marianna.

For more information call 482-2114 or 718-0437.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Scott gets bill banning texting

Published 5/21/2013
In the package of bills on the Governor’s desk is SB 1808. It ratifies an agreement between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency setting nitrogen and phosphorus limits for Florida waterways. Some environmentalists opposed the measure and are suing to close loopholes in SB 1808 they say allow toxic algae blooms in springs and rivers.

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Hernando looks at fertilizer rules to protect springs

Published May 7, 2013
A working group of government officials formed after the vote in May and recently reported to the board that the Weeki Wachee Springs system is adapted to a very low level of nutrients such as nitrogen. Even a small increase can spark algae growth.

Because of the levels of nutrients present in the Weeki Wachee system, the state has termed the system an "impaired water body.'' Most of the nitrogen found in the system comes from inorganic fertilizer. Septic tanks are a secondary source, staff told commissioners.
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

SRWMD declares April 2013 as Springs Protection Awareness Month

Published April 29, 2013

The Suwannee River Water Management District (District) Governing Board has joined with the Florida Legislature by recognizing April 2013 as Springs Protection Awareness Month.
With more than 300 documented springs, the District has one of the highest concentrations of freshwater springs in the United States. Of the state’s 33 first magnitude springs (ones flowing at least 100 cubic feet per second, or 64 million gallons a day), 18 are in the District.
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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Panel focuses on saving our springs

Published April 20, 2013 The Gainesville Sun
John Moran was one of three people panelists in a discussion about Florida's natural springs being in danger. The talk took place at the Florida Museum of Natural History on Saturday, and it also featured Lesley Gamble, an art history professor at the University of Florida, and graphic designer Rick Kilby.

Moran, Gamble and Kilby have started the Springs Eternal Project, a movement to raise awareness about saving the state's springs. The project includes a photo exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History. It also will include huge murals wrapped around local buses.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fraternities collaborate to save Florida springs

Published April 15, 2013
Bringing together the combined efforts of nine USF fraternities, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) coordinated a campaign that played on competition between Greek organizations and culminated Sunday afternoon in a series of performances for IFC’s first collaborative philanthropy initiative.

Bob Knight, founder of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, opened the event after a brief video played, illustrating the threats facing Florida’s aquatic ecosystem such as pollution, over-pumping and resulting poisonous algae blooms.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Now Endangered, Florida's Silver Springs Once Lured Tourists

Published Apr 13, 2013
Countless movies were filmed there, including Tarzan and Creature From the Black Lagoon. With its wildlife and freshwater springs, Silver Springs in Central Florida was one of the state's most popular tourist destinations. Those waters have receded now as the delicate ecosystem suffers from problems that threaten the entire state.

Later this year, Florida's park service will take over Silver Springs and begin working to restore it to a more natural state. That is a huge task, however, and over the past two decades, Silver Springs — and most springs in Florida — have fallen on hard times. Source

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gov. Scott Announces $2.2 Million Investment for Springs Protection

Published 3/20/2013 Suwannee Democrat
Governor Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet approved a plan for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to purchase a tract of land in Madison County that will fill a critical gap for springs protection, flood control assistance and groundwater recharge. The Cabinet approved the Department’s $2.2 million purchase of a 599-acre property owned by the Damascus Peanut Company on the Suwannee River, located near Anderson Spring. The property will complete sections of the Ellaville Twin Rivers State Forest and will be managed by the Florida Forest Service. It is part of Florida’s First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever Project.

A large number of springs are located along the Suwannee River and this property has 1.6 miles of river frontage on the western bank of the river. Those springs are Hardee Springs, Madison Blue Springs, Falmouth Spring and Lafayette Blue Spring.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Land managers begin work on Silver Springs' basin plan

Published March 17, 2013 Ocala.com
The group will spend the next few months crafting what's known as the Basin Management Action Plan, or BMAP.

The BMAP will be the vehicle through which Marion County, joined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, will try to curtail the flushing of nitrates into the springs.

The DEP has designated Silver Springs as impaired, with a nitrate level that is triple the maximum pollution threshold set by the agency.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Rivers And Springs Are Getting Sicker, Former Fla. Governor Says It's Because Of 'Bad Policies'

A scathing guest column that appeared Wednesday in the Orlando Sentinel says "severe budget cuts are seriously compromising the ability of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection and Legislature and water management districts to adequately protect our state's natural resources."

Most recently, the paper covered an upcoming rally for Wekiva River, a 16-or-so-mile spring-fed river in central Florida. The Speak Up Wekiva rally, planned for February 16, is hosted by Florida Conservation Coalition and its partners, including Friends of the Wekiva River, League of Women Voters of Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Study seeks ways to recharge Floridan aquifer

Published 1/27/2012 Jacksonville Business Journal
A technical memorandum, completed by Atkins North America Inc., presents a number of aquifer recharge concepts to help decide the best ways to artificially put water back into the aquifer, according to the Lake City Reporter.
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Do we want natural Florida to be wild, or kept on a leash?

Published 1/27/2013 Orlando Sentinel
Last year, I helped guide the same geographer to another possible spring site in the basin. There, we descended into a swamp that cradled a clear thread of transparent water. As a result of that trek, "Sirena Spring" was named and cataloged.

Last year, some 70 scientists participating in a "BioBlitz" initiated by the Friends of the Wekiva River identified more than 1,564 species of plants and animals. Some 36 percent of the plants — 214 — were previously undocumented here. If that ratio holds true for the entire tally of aquatic and terrestrial species, then more than 400 plants and animals were not previously identified here.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Activists to rally around Wekiva River

Published 1/26/2013 Orlando Sentinel
The Speak Up Wekiva rally on Feb. 16 is billed as "a call to action to protect and restore the impaired Wekiva River, the troubled springs that feed it, and all of Florida's treasured waterways."

With former Florida Gov. Bob Graham among several speakers, the Silver Springs rally had an attendance of nearly 1,800 people and was considered a turning point for environmental awareness. Last week, Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet approved a plan to add the springs and adjoining land to the state park system this year, taking over property that is now a private tourist attraction.

The Wekiva River is created by Wekiwa Springs in northwest Orange County and flows 16 miles along the borders between Orange, Seminole and Lake counties before joining the St. Johns River.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

State leaders must act to save ailing springs, rivers

Published 1/23/2012 Orlando Sentinel
The state's first major program to protect environmentally sensitive land from development, Preservation 2000, was launched in 1990 by then-Republican Gov. Bob Martinez. The program's successor, Florida Forever, began under Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. Leaders from both parties were proud to call themselves environmentalists.

Despite such dire reports on the condition of Florida waterways, there's been no sign of urgency in the state capital. Last month a federal judge had to order state and federal environmental agencies to implement water-pollution limits that have been on the table since 1998. A movement is growing among citizens to force lawmakers to restore the funding they've cut from Florida Forever.
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Florida water management districts seek $122 million for springs restoration

Published 1/23/2013 Tampa Bay Tribune
That's 10 times what the state spent on springs last year, and four times what the state budgeted for Everglades restoration.
Now getting rid of septic tanks near springs is one of the main targets of the proposed taxpayer-funded restoration effort. In Citrus County, for instance, county officials say the DEP is already helping pay for removing 500 septic tanks around Kings Bay in hopes of ending the spread of a toxic algae called Lyngbya.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Protesters demand EPA impose pollution rules on Florida

Published January 18, 2013 Tampa Bay Times
About 150 environmental activists from around the state, many wearing green T-shirts that said "Ask Me About SLIME," crowded into the hallway in front of a ballroom door to protest what they viewed as lax water pollution regulations.


The dispute is over how to cut nutrient pollution, which in the past 30 years has become the most common water pollution problem in the state. Nitrates and phosphorous from fertilizer, septic waste and other sources feed the increase in slimy algae blooms that kill fish and cause respiratory problems and rashes among swimmers.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Florida rivers getting sicker, Sentinel investigation finds

Published 1/16/2013 Orlando Sentinel
Of the 22 rivers studied, from Miami to Pensacola, nearly half are in decline because of pollution from lawns, street runoff, wastewater and agriculture, and because of shrinking flows caused by drought and rising demand for water by cities and industries.

But the state has a compelling reason to protect its rivers: If Florida's rivers are not healthy, then neither is its water.


The Hillsborough, Peace, St. Johns and Kissimmee rivers, for example, deliver drinking water to the state's biggest metropolitan areas. The Apalachicola nurtures a bay famed for its oysters. The state's giant springs, sources of rivers such as the Silver and the Wekiva, are an unmatched collection of natural treasures. And wilderness areas tied to rivers, such as the Suwannee's and Fisheating Creek's, are awesome, humbling places

Protecting rivers is controversial. Last month, most notably, an impatient federal judge ordered Florida and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finally implement pollution regulations that have been on the books for nearly 15 years. Many state lawmakers and industries have fought the regulations as overly burdensome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Silver Springs could become Florida state park

Published 1/14/2013

Silver Springs, a Florida attraction for more than 80 years, could be named a state park.
Dr. Robert “Bob” Knight, director of the H. T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, said with the springs colorful history and famous glass-bottom boat rides in Ocala, that the state thought it would be great to convert to a state park for years.

Water district proposes 11-year delay in setting flows for Wakulla Springs

Published 1/14/2013
The Northwest Florida Water Management District is seeking to delay setting minimum flow levels for Wakulla Springs and other springs in the district by 11 years, raising concerns among environmentalists.



This year, a group called Florida Leaders Organized for Water has drafted the Floridan Aquifer Sustainability Act of 2013. 


White Springs Mayor Helen Miller, the group's vice chairman, said the legislation would provide resources to agencies and timetables for setting minimum flows. The group has asked North Central Florida legislators to sponsor the bill but none has to agreed yet, she said.



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