Brad Rogers: Rainbow, Silver get big fat F’s

silversprgsF In: Brad Rogers: Rainbow, Silver get big fat F’s | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

Yes, these springs get Fs, but it is really Rick Scott and his toadies, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and their toadies and the useless, spineless legislators who get the F-  grade.  They ignore and abuse the laws we have to protect our water in their butt-over-heels rush to help industry  make money.

They are ruining Florida and perhaps have already ruined a good deal of it.  How much longer can we take their lies and abuse? How much more can our water take?  Many people know what is going on in spite of the misinformation, the  can-kicking, the make-shift temporary cures put out by our leaderless agencies.

Our mission must be education to tell more and more people how they are being hoodwinked by Tallahassee, while our government is slowly and consistently depleting our water until there is no more left.

Read the original article here in the Ocala Star Banner.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-

Brad Rogers: Rainbow, Silver get big fat F’s

By Brad Rogers

Posted Nov 3, 2018 at 1:39 AM Updated Nov 3, 2018 at 9:39 AM

And today, going to the beach anywhere in Florida stinks, literally. If the red tide doesn’t drive you away, the stench of dead fish will.

When I was a kid growing up on the beaches of Pinellas County, they warned us about overpumping the aquifer and about dumping waste into the Gulf and the bays of Florida’s west coast. No one listened. So the naturally occurring red tide occurred more and more frequently. That was bad. What was worse was the day the water coming out of our tap was suddenly brown and salty. Pinellas County had literally pumped its wellfields dry, and what became known as the Tampa Bay Water Wars was on.

When I was a teenager, I spent many weekends on the Suwannee River. We’d “spring hop,” boating down the river, stopping at spring after crystal-clear spring for a dip, a dive off of a rope swing and, if we were thirsty, a couple cupped hands full of cool, clean water straight from the spring. I can taste it today.

When I was in my 20s, my wife and I spent as many weekends as possible and most vacations on Florida’s beautiful beaches. The water was clear and aquamarine, glistening in the warm Florida sun.

When I was in my 30s, I moved my family to Ocala. As a spring lover, I was excited to be so close to so many first-magnitude springs, not the least because I wanted to share the joy of the springs with my children.

Today, going to the beach anywhere in Florida stinks, literally. If the red tide doesn’t drive you away, the stench of dead fish will. Then there is the blue-green algae that is destroying South Florida’s coastal waters, along with a few local economies.

The Suwannee River is still flowing mightily, but the dozens of springs that line its winding way are endangered, their flow minimized by overpumping, their clarity clouded by pollution and their vegetation covered in brown algae. Some are little more than a pool.

And Silver Springs — so named because of how its silvery sand bottom once glistened magically in the Florida sun — is now blanketed in ugly brown and green algae from fertilizer and farm pollution, and its flow is two-thirds what it once was because of overpumping of the aquifer.

Sigh. What is it going to take to convince our policy-makers that if we don’t quit dilly-dallying on this issue, if we don’t get beyond rhetoric and Band-aids, we’re going to be facing a real and irreparable water crisis? As longtime Audubon of Florida political director Charles Lee once told an Ocala audience, if we don’t protect our water supply, one day our water bills are going to be bigger than our electric bills. Count on it. Desalination is very expensive.

Thankfully, there are those who simply refuse to give up the fight to save our springs and waterways. Even eight years of Rick Scott’s environmental assault can’t deter this bunch.

I speak of the couple hundred advocates of Florida’s 1,000-plus freshwater springs who are in Ocala this weekend for the three-day 2018 Florida Springs Restoration Summit. Not only is this group, led by the Florida Springs Council in conjunction with the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, keeping on keeping on, they are stepping up their game.

The Springs Institute, led by Odum protege Bob Knight, have developed a detailed springs conservation plan. It’s not complicated, and not really much we haven’t heard before — less pumping, less fertilizer and wastewater and fewer human abuses. Pretty simple. Or so one would think. But time is running out.

Knight’s institute is going to start an annual report card on the springs — a bona fide data tracking device and an attention getter. This year’s is out, and it’s, well, not good. The grades are based on each spring’s flow, salinity and nitrate levels — all critical components to a healthy — or unhealthy — spring. First of all, not one spring in Florida got an A. Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest got the highest grade, with a B+. Silver Glen, also in the forest, received a C+. And Rainbow Springs and Silver Springs? Both received F’s. That’s right, they’re failing. Right. Before. Our. Eyes.

Our new governor and our state legislators need to start listening to and acting on the warnings and recommendations from people like Knight, Guy Marwick, Lisa Saupp, John and Susan Dunn, Whitey Markle, Chris Spontak and Mo Driggers, who have spent their lives not only living in and working in Ocala/Marion County, but working — hard! — to save our springs and waterways.

This isn’t rocket science, it’s water science. Don’t overuse our finite water supply. Don’t pour crap into our clean water. And quit with the pesticides and herbicides. There’s more to the plan, but you get the idea.

We should all be grateful for the aforementioned people. They do tedious and time-consuming work, all in the name of saving our springs and rivers. They have a plan. It’s time to start implementing it, at least parts of it, as public policy. If only Tallahassee will start listening … and acting with some urgency.

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