Looking Deeper Into Our Springs — And a Missed Opportunity

We commend the Lake City Reporter for giving us this article dealing with our local springs, unique treasure that we have in North Florida.  At the same time, we have a lost opportunity here to educate and inform that these springs are, in fact, dying, something that many people do not know.

An amazing number of people assume that our springs and rivers are pristine and healthy, partly because Tallahassee and politicians periodically write newspaper articles saying what a great job  our state is doing to conserve them, when in fact our state is knowingly allowing their death.

It is lamentable that the failing health of the springs of the Lower Santa Fe River did not appear in this article.  Until people are aware of the situation, the solution will be slow in coming.  Up to now we have had much talk, but no spring has yet been restored to its pre-development condition of flow and clarity.

The Florida Springs Institute is doing great work, and the health of the springs is what they are all  about, but that message did not come out here.

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


 

lcrjan11 In: Looking Deeper Into Our Springs -- And a Missed Opportunity | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
COURTESY Florida Springs Institute environmental scientist Hillary Skowronski took bathymetric sonar readings last week at Hornsby Spring, said to be the first of their kind recorded locally.

Use of sonar a first in region
Precise mapping, measurement finally possible

By COREY ARWOOD/Lake City Reporter

lcrjan2 In: Looking Deeper Into Our Springs -- And a Missed Opportunity | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

In what’s being called a first for local springs, environmental scientists are using advanced sonar imagery to determine precise depth measurements. Focusing their efforts exclusively on the springs of the lower Santa Fe River, scientists with the High Springs-based Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute began their bathymetric testing at Hornsby Spring last week.

“The visual map is the cool part to have,” said environmental scientist Hillary Skowronski.

lcrjan3 In: Looking Deeper Into Our Springs -- And a Missed Opportunity | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

But, along with the cool imagery derived by the GPS device that emits four sonar beams while attached to a john boat, she said the precise depth information would complement the variety of physical and chemical information they garner from testing they routinely do on the waters in the spring systems.

Altogether, Skowronski said the testing helps gauge what is called the metabolism of the bodies of water with information like oxygen and dangerous nitrate levels. She said the device she used at Hornsby Spring “compiles all of the depth data (and) gives you contour lines to see how the depth is changing in the springs.”

“Anything we can map we’re going to try to do,” Skowronski said. She said they plan to provide the information to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in hopes of creating detailed maps of the spring beds.

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