The winners of Our Santa Fe River’s 4th Annual Singer/Songwriter Contest are…

Congratulations to our 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place winners!

1st Place, Michael Loveday, “Drift Away”

2nd Place, Kevin Wayne Sullivan, “Santa Fe Blues”

3rd Place,  Bo Page, “We All Own The River”

This year’s musical event was the best show ever. It just keeps getting better and better. The songs were wonderful, so much talent with 9 performers.  Thank you to all talented musicians that gave their hearts to sing about OUR Santa Fe River!

We raised over $3000 from sponsorships, raffle, silent auction, memberships and just outright donations to Our Santa Fe River, not for profit 501(c)(3).

These donations support the Springs Tie Dye Kitchen Towel Project, the Annual Song Contest and operational expenses.

Thank you everyone for your continued support!

Save the date for next year’s event, the first Sunday in October, October 5,  2014.  You don’t have to be a professional musician to compete, so start writing your songs now to have them ready!

See you on the River!

OSFR Singer/Songwriter Contest is this Sunday…rain or shine!

Come one, come all!  The day is fast approaching!

Our Santa Fe River is sponsoring the 4th Annual Singer/Songwriter Contest this Sunday, October 6 from 4-6 pm at OSFR Headquarters, (Rum 138) 2070 SW CR 138 in Fort White.

Spend the day on Our beautiful river and then come out to OSFR Headquarters to enjoy local area musicians and artists sharing their original songs and artwork about the Santa Fe River!  The High Springs Lion’s Club will be serving barbecue all day for $8.00.  There will be a silent auction, give-aways and an annual membership drive. The highlight of the auction is a “Learn to Play Mandolin” package, including a brand new mandolin, case, and wall mount, a DVD, book, and extra strings.  There will be an open mic music jam immediately after the contest.  BYOC (bring your own chair!).  Admission is FREE!

For more information or to enter your song click here or call (386) 243-0322.  All performances recorded by Digitel Video, LLC.  Top three places receive cash prizes.  All performances will be recorded for www.YouTube.com.

Human Waste Dumping in Santa Fe River Watershed

You may want to know that they are dumping treated human waste on a farming operation between The Santa Fe River and Fort White, FL (US 27), again.  A sludge company has been doing this for over 20 years. OSFR just found out about this “business” and 2 others in the immediate area.  They are acceptably permitted through the FDEP as a Biosolids Application.  This one just got issued a 5 year extension on their existing permit despite the fact that when we had Cyanobacteria last year on our river related to nitrate loading, the state tested and found higher then normal levels of “weathered” (meaning older) sucralose (a man made chemical used by humans to sweeten their food).

We think this business is unacceptable in a watershed for an Outstanding Florida Waterway that is already classified as “impaired” by the TMDL’s (Total Maximum Daily Loads: how much nutrient inputs are acceptable according to state standards).

4th Annual OSFR Singing & Songwriting Contest, Sunday October 6 @ 4 pm @ Rum 138

A Foot Stompin’, Toe Tappin’ Good Time!

It’s time for the fourth annual Our Santa Fe River Singer/Songwriter Contest, sponsored by Our Santa Fe River, Inc. and Rum 138.  Come on out and listen to song performances about the river we all love on Sunday, October 6, 2013 from 4-6pm at OSFR Headquarters, Rum 138, 2070 SW CR 138 in Fort White!

Laid back Rum 138 (that cute new place that rents kayaks on County Road 138) will host the stage performances by artists who have written songs about the Santa Fe River.  If you love the peace and tranquility of the river, there will be songs for you.  If you love the sunshine, blue skies, and all the critters along the river, there will be songs for you.  And if you love the stories of the characters along the river, there will be songs for you!

Musicians are already at work and will be performing original songs from 4:00 – 6:00 PM.  Prizes for the winners will be announced as the contest ends.  All songs will be recorded and filmed for YouTube (with the musician’s permission, of course).  This event will be a fantastic time to celebrate the river life we all love.

Food and drinks will be available throughout the afternoon, so bring your favorite outdoor chair and sit a spell.  The High Springs Lion’s Club will be serving barbecue all day for $8.00.  There will be a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and an annual membership drive. The highlight of the auction is a “Learn to Play Mandolin” package, including a brand new mandolin, case, and wall mount, a DVD, book, and extra strings.  There will be an open mic music jam immediately after the contest.  BYOC (bring your own chair!).  Admission is FREE!

If you’d like to enter a song, click on the links below.  The deadline to enter is October 2nd.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

The Santa Fe River was designated one of Florida’s Outstanding Waterways.  Come help us celebrate!

Our Santa Fe River Song Contest 2013 Official Rules

2013 OSFR Song Contest Entry Form


Pray For Rain, Hope For Change

SRWMD Executive Director, Dr. Ann Shortelle answers intelligent questions about the future of the Santa Fe River and mandated Minimum Flows and Levels. The SFR will be in “recovery” and the Ichetucknee River in “prevention” When these peer reviewed scientific documents are adopted by the DEP and our State. Get involved with the process now; July 2nd, Tues, 9am at Srwmd Headquarters in Live Oak, FL at the next technical workshop. We, together, will be with envirommentalists, industry, municipalities, agriculture, mining and scientists from all areas to begin the discussion on a more detailed level if understanding.

Read on for the article by  Editorial Page editor for The Gainesville Sun

The original article appeared here in The Gainesville Sun.

Pray For Rain, Hope For Change

As thunder rumbled outside the Fort White Community Center, Ann Shortelle paused her presentation about water permits.

“Don’t you love it? I love it. … More water, please,” said Shortelle, executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District.

It seems like praying for rain has long substituted for any real district policy on keeping the aquifer from being drained. The district has kept issuing permits for large groundwater withdrawals, even as the evidence shows springs are drying up as a result.

Several members of the group Our Santa Fe River Inc. repeated variations of that criticism Wednesday at Shortelle’s presentation. She pledged that pumping in the region is going to decrease, but it might not happen immediately because of the economic hardship involved.

“What will typically happen instead of just ‘That’s it, no more, just shut the barn gate,’ if you will, is to begin to ratchet things back,” she said.

The chief mechanism is setting something called minimum flows and levels, or MFLs. Basically, MFLs determine how much water can be withdrawn before significant harm occurs. The water management districts are supposed to use the results to make decisions on permitting groundwater pumping for farms, utilities and other big users.

That’s the idea, anyway. Districts are just getting around to setting MFLs more than three decades after they were mandated by the Legislature, so there’s reason to be skeptical.

As Robert Knight of the Florida Springs Institute explains in another column today, the region’s springs have slowed to a trickle and turned green in the meantime.

Shortelle has been district director for a year and is saying the right things about protecting springs, especially a new push to extend MFLs beyond district lines.

The boundaries of the state’s five water management districts are based on surface water divides. Yet the aquifer doesn’t follow those borders.

The Legislature passed a measure this session to require districts to follow the MFLs of each other, if they’re also adopted by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The Suwannee district is requesting the DEP adopt its MFLs for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee rivers, now being finalized.

That would mean the neighboring St. Johns Water Management District would have to base permitting decisions on whether they affect those rivers and the springs feeding them. It’s a needed move given that the St. Johns district approved a permit in 2011 that allows Jacksonville’s utility, JEA, to eventually pump more than 150 million gallons a day of groundwater.

The St. Johns district has claimed that drought, not the green lawns of Jacksonville residents, is responsible for declining water levels in the region. Shortelle suggested that a decades-long trend of lower rainfall corresponds with the aquifer’s decline, but pumping also plays a big part.

She insisted that the MFLs for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee rivers will turn the tide, even if past efforts have fallen short.

“This one is going to be different,” she said.

So instead of just praying for rain, let’s hope there’s enough change to save the springs before it’s too late.


Special Annual Membership Meeting

Special Annual Meeting on MFL’s (Minimum Flows and Levels)

Our Santa Fe River, Inc., not for profit, is having a special Annual Membership Meeting (an open public meeting) Wednesday June 26, 2013 at 6 pm (light refreshments will be served), meeting begins at 6 :30 pm at the Fort White Community Center at 17579 SW State Road 47.  Our special Guest speaker is Dr. Ann Shortelle, Director of the Suwannee River Water Management District.  She will be on hand to discuss the Minimum Flows and Levels (MFL’s) on the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers.

The MFL’s are a very important part of Florida Statutes, found in F.S.Ch 373 and was originally designed to protect our most valuable asset found in our waterways.  And for us, the interest is specifically the Lower Santa Fe River.

Please read here to understand more on the legislative directives:



OSFR Letter Gets Noticed by US EPA

Today, the US EPA responded to President Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson complaint regarding the missing teeth in a recent EPA Ruling.  Though the response was a request for a missing attachment, it means that they read the document enough to know that the attachment was missing!

Count this as a score for Our Santa Fe River!  It is a strong reminder to write letters to officials in both the State and the Federal Government because you never know who might be listening!  Let Our voice be heard!

Feb 12, 2013

EPA Docket

Dear Docket,

The photograph in this email is on the Santa Fe River. I was there the day this picture was taken and I was also there when this outbreak of cynobacteria first occurred and I exposed this story.

My name is Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and I represent a citizen advocate group (Our Santa Fe River, Inc, not for profit) that helps to protect the ecology, quality and quantity of the water in and around he watershed of the Santa Fe.

The FDEP says that the nutrient requirements for the Santa Fe River are more stringent than the rules you will impose. I am here to say that their requirements obviously do not work and our river is noticably impaired. And though they say they are working on “fixing” our problem, it is a dare I say, too late, and I feel they really need a hard push to make it a quicker fix; less studies at this moment and more action.

I urge you to take the mandatory steps necessary to protect our watershed and all watersheds in Florida for the betterment of the natural systems and our own quality of life and livelihood.

This river and so many other waterways are our economic engine; without them we will falter and the humans will move away and other living organisms will most likely perish.

On November 30, 2012, the EPA published a rulemaking to set numeric nutrient standards for South Florida flowing waters, estuaries, marine and coastal waters (the 85% percent of Florida waters that were not included in the state Department of Environmental Protection rule).

EPA also conditionally approved the DEP state rule and its standards for the 15% of the state’s flowing and estuarine/coastal/marine waters that were included in it.

That conditional approval depends on the state taking a number of actions that it may or may not take. There are a number of problems with this plan.

* Rivers and streams covered by the state rule will not have true criteria. Instead, they have “thresholds” that can be exceeded without nutrient reduction measures ever necessarily being required.

* In order for these waters to potentially get pollution limits, the presence of algae outbreaks/fish kills/other types of biological failure would be required and subsequent studies linking the biological failure with the exceedence of the thresholds would need to be completed. The DEP rule has no commitment to do, nor timeline/deadline for study completion; therefore waters can indefinitely exceed the thresholds with no requirement to reduce nutrient pollution inputs.

* The state DEP rule allows tidal, intermittent, altered artificial waters and South Florida waters to be exempted from all numeric nutrient standards in the future.

I oppose EPA putting DEP in charge of enforcing the Clean Water Act; DEP is firing experienced staffers and replacing them with people who represent polluting industries.

I oppose the less stringent standards and “thresholds” found in the state DEP rule.

I oppose any attempts DEP may make to pursue rulemaking to expand weak alternate standards to apply to the additional waters that the EPA Rule now covers.

I oppose any attempts by DEP to exempt current Class III waters, including tidal, intermittent, altered/artificial waters, and South Florida waters from having the EPA standards apply to them.

I support having EPA establish protective limits on fertilizer, manure, and sewage pollution for ALL streams, rivers, canals, estuaries, marine and coastal waters everywhere in Florida.


Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson


Mayor Helen Miller of FLOW tells it like it is!

Beloved Rivers And Springs In North Florida Are Drying Up

Click here to find out more!

WCTV’s Greg Gullberg in Tallahassee reports on Our Beloved Rivers And Springs In North Florida…

Greg Gullberg – Feb. 14, 2013

White Springs, FL – North Florida is known for its natural beauty like the Suwannee River. But many of these rivers, lakes and springs are on the verge of drying up for good.

Mayor Helen Miller of White Springs has been studying the findings of the Suwannee River Water Managment District. She tells us it’s because the water is being used up faster than it can be replenished.

“The springs and rivers of North Florida are the heart and sole of this area. People have grown up hunting and fishing, they kayak, they boat,” said Mayor Miller.

The problem is us, all of us who use public water provided by municipalities. Vast water shortages are nothing new in Florida. But Mayor Miller says there is too little regulation over “Pumping Permits” that allow cities to drain the rivers and springs.

The Suwannee River is at near record lows. The river is a good six feet below the water line. And Mayor Miller worries that if things keep going the way they are this river could be all dried up in a matter of years.

Mayor Miller says the biggest threat to North Florida water ways is Jacksonville. 300,000 people draw water from the “Jacksonville Electric Authority”, the largest community owned utility company in Florida. Mayor Miller says the data shows between 10% and 15% of the water is lost in their distribution systems.

“We’d like the JEA to go ahead and make the needed improvements. Buy new pipes, become efficient, conserve. But they need to make repairs so they don’t lose the 10 to 15 percent,” said Mayor Miller.

But the problem is much bigger than that.

“Everyone who asks for a permit seems to get it. From what we understand, from all the permits that have been granted people can pump more water than there actually is available,” said Mayor Miller.

To fix the problem, a coalition of community leaders from 11 different counties have banned together to form “FLOW”. “Florida Leaders Organized For Water”. Mayor Miller is the Vice Chair.

FLOW is proposing legislation to require state leaders to fund the development of a comprehensive plan to monitor the pumping permits and restore impaired water bodies. It will also call for more programs to educate citizens on better water conservation practices.

“Since we don’t have our state leaders coming up with new ideas, we felt it’s time to do it ourselves. That’s what the legislation is all about. Some practical ideas for improvement in our water ways,” said Mayor Miller.

For now, there’s no telling if this legislation will make any progress in this year’s session or if 2013 will be the year water conservation takes center stage.

“We all know we’re all part of the problem. And we’ve got to get together and be part of the solution,” said Mayor Miller.

FLOW is working on finalizing the legislation in the next couple weeks before the Spring session. Mayor Miller will also be speaking at the “Springs Restoration Summit” next month in Dixie County.

See the original article here.

What’s up with the FOAM?

Just in case anyone was wondering about constant foam we are seeing on the Santa Fe River, we have seen it in years past, just not as much as we are seeing today.

OSFR sent these photos to FDEP and asked for their response.

David Whiting, Biology Program Administrator at the FDEP Bureau of Laboratories responded by sending an information sheet that the FDEP Northeast District Office put together in response to a significant foam incident on the St. Johns River.  Mr. Whiting said “I suspect that the foam on the Santa Fe River may be related to certain organic compounds being released from the breakdown of natural organic matter.  Some of these organic compounds can behave like surfactants and cause foaming.”

Click here to read the St. John’s River report.

2012 OSFR Singing & Songwriting Contest

1st Place-“Up and Down the Santa Fe with You” by Don Austin

2nd Place-“By Night or Day” by Rachel Parker

3rd Place-“The River Moans” by Bo Page

“The Old Santa Fe” by Jack Dowd

Jack Dowd 2012 participants

“My Santa Fe” by Mike Gianikas

“For Jan” by Michael Loveday

“Hallowed Ground” by Keith J. Peters

Matt Dubé’s Inspiring Video on North Florida’s Disappearing Waters

Vanishing Point: North Florida’s Disappearing Waters

Vanishing Point is a photographic documentary created by Matt Dubé on the ongoing degradation of lakes and streams around north central Florida. The project contains images from the winter of 2011 through June 2012 and concludes with a call to action to help save these waters from over-consumption and nutrient contamination.

Matt Dubé attended the Santa Fe workshop in May 2012.  At that time, he was working on this photo documentary of lakes and streams affected by drought and groundwater pumping.  He shared his photo documentary with Our Santa Fe River in the hopes of spurring action to protect our water resources.  You’ll recognize photographs of our beloved river and our esteemed president, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson!

Please comment here or at Matt’s video link http://vimeo.com/45803088


City of Alachua Water Restrictions

The City of Alachua has issued Mandatory water restrictions, not recommended.  The effective period will be May 29, 2012 until September 30, 2012 unless modified by the Water Management District.  See the details of the restriction below:

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