The Florida Springs Council has released the following:
Florida Springs Council Supports Citizens’ Challenges to the Proposed Silver Springs Minimum Flows and Levels
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Hilliard
President, Florida Springs Council
Margaret Stewart, Esq.
Legal Chair, Florida Springs Council
May 8, 2017
HIGH SPRINGS, FL – On May 3, Putnam County resident Karen Chadwick filed a petition with
the State’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) to invalidate Proposed Rule 40C-
8.031(7) – the Minimum Flows and Levels for Silver Springs. Minimum flows and levels are
established for water bodies to prevent significant ecological harm as a result of groundwater
and/or surface water withdrawals.
The Florida Springs Council (FSC) strongly supports Ms. Chadwick’s petition.
Utilizing authority granted in the 2016 water legislation, the St. Johns River Water Management
District Board approved both emergency and permanent MFLs on April 11. On April 28, several
parties filed a petition to invalidate the emergency MFL. Subsequently, Administrative Law
Judge E. Gary Early denied the District’s Motion to dismiss that petition.
Ms. Chadwick’s petition is aimed at overturning the permanent MFL. DOAH will hear the
emergency rule challenge in Palatka on May 11-12, and Ms. Chadwick’s petition will likely be
heard by DOAH this summer. Ms. Chadwick’s petition notes that Silver Springs historically had
the distinction of having the highest long-term measured flow of any spring in the U.S.A. But
over the past four decades it has lost more than one third of its historic average flow. The Silver
River no longer has a white sandy bottom and crystal clear water; flow has diminished so much
that what was shimmering white sand 20 years ago is now a bottom covered by excessive growth
of submerged plants and filamentous algae. As a direct result, fish populations in the Silver River
have crashed and the aesthetic beauty of the springs is greatly diminished. The State’s proposed
MFL attributes very little of the reduced flow to groundwater pumping, while both challenges
assert that pumping is a significant factor in the flow reductions and overall degradation of Silver
Both petitioners will challenge the scientific basis of the District’s conclusions, as well as the
validity of the groundwater models on which the District’s conclusions are based. And, given the
fact that the adopted MFL for Silver Springs has not been met in 15 of the past 16 years, both
challengers will assert that it makes no sense to approve an MFL which would intensify harm to
this priceless natural wonder.
Dr. Robert Knight, the Director of the Florida Springs Institute and a Board Member of the
Florida Springs Council, has studied Silver Springs for nearly 40 years. “The proposed MFL is a
travesty of regulatory capitulation to special interests,” noted Dr. Knight. “The only path to
restoration of the ecological and economic importance of Silver Springs is a regional reduction in
groundwater extractions, not additional excessive depletion of its life blood.”