Fla. failing to save springs from decline — a deliberate and premeditated policy

Jim Tatum LASTPICCSS 036 Opt In: Fla. failing to save springs from decline -- a deliberate and premeditated policy | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
 Santa Fe River, Columbia Co. Photo by Jim Tatum

 

This editorial is truth and fact:  our state is deliberately and consistently allowing the death of our springs and rivers, and they are doing it to promote business and industry.

We have strong and adequate laws to protect our waters, but the state cheats by juggling figures, leaving out data which does not help their case, or they simply ignore the written statue.  This is done in the DEP and in the water districts.

Good water scientists in the water districts have been fired when they objected to the bad science they were expected to use.

Two main causes of the death are  over-pumping and excess fertilizer.  The state is not ready to curtail either because our leaders are controlled by lobbyists.

Reliable, accountable sources lately have also questioned  whether some of our administrative law judges may be politically influenced to follow state policy, since some of their rulings defy logic.

Since it is legal to bribe our lawmakers in Tallahassee, the problem seems insurmountable.  We have a few ethical leaders in the Legislature, but way too few.

Read the entire article in the Gainesville Sun.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
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Fla. failing to save springs from decline

The Gainesville Sun Editorial Board USA TODAY NETWORK

The decline of Florida’s natural springs is obvious to see, through both the eye test and scientific data showing that many springs have experienced decreasing flows and increasing pollution.

Yet the deck is stacked against those seeking to stop, or even slow down, the groundwater withdrawals and nutrient pollution causing the problem.

In two recent cases, the efforts of groups advocating for springs were rejected by administrative law judges. The decisions give state regulators another excuse to do the bare minimum under laws intended to protect springs and the groundwater providing their flow as well as the state’s drinking water supply.

The first case involved a permit allowing nearly 1 million gallons of groundwater per day to be withdrawn for Nestle’s water-bottling plant near High Springs. The Suwannee River Water Management District initially recommended denying the permit to Seven Springs Water Co., which pays just a $115 one-time permit fee to the state and gets paid an undisclosed amount by Nestle for the water.

After an appeal, however, an administrative law judge ruled in January that Seven Springs met legal requirements to withdraw groundwater that would otherwise flow through the springs system at Ginnie Springs into the Santa Fe River. On Tuesday, the Suwannee district’s governing board approved the permit as board members suggested they were worried about losing another costly legal challenge.

A second case provided more evidence of the uphill battle faced by those defending Florida’s environment. A coalition of springs advocates filed a legal challenge over state Basin Management Action Plans that are supposed to reduce pollution in springs, but are so weak that they just allow more nutrient-fueled algae growth and loss of biodiversity.

The springs systems in the challenge included Ichetucknee Springs and others flowing to the Sante [sic] Fe; Manatee, Fanning and other springs flowing into the Suwannee River; and Silver and Rainbow springs in Marion County. Springs advocates found that plans for the springs failed to meet the state’s own requirements, used questionable science and wouldn’t restore them, but an administrative judge rejected their arguments.

The judge ruled that the state’s ‘only requirement was to fill in the blanks, regardless of whether or not what they wrote was credible or backed by science,’ Florida Springs Council Executive Director Ryan Smart told the Orlando Sentinel.

The decline of springs has been well-documented. A recent report on the Santa Fe River from the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, for example, found its flow has been significantly decreasing while pollution it in has been significantly increasing due to these problems in the springs that largely feed it.

Other springs are similarly suffering due to groundwater pollution from agricultural operations, septic tanks and other sources at the same time excessive groundwater withdrawals are choking their flow. State agencies such as the water management districts and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are allowing it to happen, with taxpayers footing the bill for the restoration projects needed as a result….

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