We have already expressed our disgust with this issue in a recent post: “Editorial: Springs Plan Not Working.”
Once more, the Tallahassee Democrat is writing about it. Every newspaper in Florida should write about it, with a plea for every citizen to contact the appropriate Tallahassee lawmaker and the governor. We are passing the point of no return in depleting our water resources.
Read the original article here in the Tallahassee Democrat.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Advocates: Huge gap in springs cleanup plan
Plan to reduce nitrogen and algae drawing fire
James Call Tallahassee Democrat
USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
Wakulla Springs advocates say a state roadmap to clean springs is a dead end.
A coalition of groups dedicated to springs protection sent letters Thursday to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to expose “huge gaps” in the proposed Basin Management Action Plans for springs fouled by pollution. BMAPS are long-range plans to reduce nitrogen in the watersheds of 24 freshwater springs of north and central Florida.
The plans are required by the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act of 2016 and must be approved by the end of this month. More than 20 groups under the umbrella of The Florida Springs Council say the DEP is overly optimistic about its cleanup plans.
“They are asking farmers to implement best management practices for agriculture,” said Bob Knight of the FSC. “But they tried that in 2012 in the Santa Fe basin, after five years there was no improvement – zero nitrogen reduction.”
The Department points out that BMAPS are 20-year plans. The timeframe allows the agency to adapt to changing circumstances.
“The phased BMAP approach allows for incrementally reducing loadings through the implementation of projects,” said DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller, when asked about the FSC’s letters. “This process allows BMAPs to be adapted and modified as new data and management tools become available.”
Nitrogen, in the form of fertilizers and human and animal waste, feed algae that then crowds out other life and eventually suffocates water bodies.
DEP estimates there’s a nitrogen load of 6.2 million pounds every year in the Wakulla Springs basin. About 30 percent occurs naturally, from the atmosphere, the rest is produced by humans and animals. The biggest load, 1.7 million pounds, comes from fertilizers used in the cities and on farms, another 1.4 million pounds flow from 12,000 septic tanks.
Knight said DEP has no easy solutions.
Retrofitting the septic tanks comes with a cost – as much as $3,000 per unit. And according to the springs advocates, Florida’s 2011 Right to Farm Act, written to protect agriculture from nuisance lawsuits, is used to allow pollution from farms to flow unchecked.
“They just can’t tell agriculture what to do,” said Knight. “This is a legislative issue.” Knight said the FSC and its allies are considering filing administrative challenges if changes are not made in the plans for the impaired springs at Deleon, Gemini, Santa Fe River/Itchetucknee, Volusia Blue, Wakulla and Wekiva.
Reporter James Call can be reached at [email protected]