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Two years ago the Florida Springs Council held the first Springs Summit at the College of Central Florida in Ocala. On November 1 – 4, 2018 the second one took place. The main panels were held on Friday Nov. and Saturday Nov. 3. Each day 4 panels were held with a key-note speaker at lunch. Panelists consisted of environmentalists, scientists, and representatives from water agencies such as water districts, the Department of Environmental Protection, and other experts including university professors and private enterprises.
Dan Hilliard, president of the Florida Springs Council
Bob Knight, president of the Florida Springs Institute, did a great job putting everything together. Lu Merritt, of Ichetucknee Alliance, was the punctual timekeeper, and she made everyone toe the line.
Although there was a mixed bag of speakers, the slant of the summit of course was most certainly toward water protection and, as the title suggests, the restoration of our springs. For which we are still waiting. We still have not restored one spring, but our DEP and water districts have talked a lot and spent a lot of money. All this while they continue to issue water permits.
Key-note speaker and a delightful person and speaker as well, is Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, who should run for governor. Most celebrity speakers speak and run. Not this one. She was there at least 3 days. Maybe 4, we don’t know. She was on the recent Florida Constitution Revision Commission, headed by Scott-appointed anti-environment Carlos Beruff.
Our talented key-note speaker was introduced by the incomparable John Moran. If Thurlow-Lippisch doesn’t make governor, Moran should run.
A common theme heard throughout the summit, and emphasized by Thurlow-Lippisch was that Florida government, on down from the highest places have flagrantly and intentionally disregarded our water laws and statutes for a long time. The result is that our water is fouled, a disgrace and a humiliation to its citizens.
Thurlow-Lippisch and President Mike Roth, of OSFR
Here with Mary Hampton of the Villages Environmental Discussions Group, who was instrumental in bringing Thurlow-Lippisch to the Summit.
Chris Mericle of Sierra Club moderates a panel. Chris has been extremely active fighting Sabal Trail and the proposed phosphate mine.
Some of the government representatives gave misinformation in their panels, typical of their dancing around the principal issues. They know that over-pumping is the main cause, coupled with excess nitrates contributed principally by agriculture and also septic tanks. The problem is the lack of leadership in Tallahassee. They go after septics more than AG because agriculture is organized and given special privileges in Florida, as outlined by key-note speaker Thurlow-Lippisch and also lawyer John Thomas. Additionally, residential home-owners lack the political clout of AG to resist.
Whitey Markle, Chair of Suwannee St Johns Group Sierra Club, and member of Florida Chapter Sierra Club Executive Committee.
Jim Gross, of Florida Defenders of the Environment.
Wayne Kinard of Amigos Dive Center, leads frequent clean-ups on the Santa Fe River and terrestrial sinkholes. Wayne is by far the best example of local dive shops, whose livelihoods depend on the river.
Angeline Meeks of Florida Springs Institute. Angeline also took first place in the poster session.
University of Florida and St. Johns River Water Management District spent 3 years and nearly 4 million dollars studying the declining and deteriorating Silver Springs when they already knew the cure. Until we can change our leadership void in Tallahassee, these misplaced and wasteful activities will continue.
Bob Ulanowicz asks a question Joe Cruz of Spring Hunters
Thanks to OSFR president Mike Roth, one of the most serious threats to local springs, the proposed phosphate mine, was aired very briefly, even though it was not a topic of the summit.
Tris Meucci, President Mike, and Jane Blais
Mike Roth with OSFR board member Jane Blais at the OSFR booth. OSFR was a 2nd Magnitude sponsor of the event, and provided Saturday’s great lunch.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-