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The Citrus County Chronicle Online has run the following opinion piece by Dan Hilliard. This is an important matter, as it deals with the state’s continued drawdown of the Crystal River and springs at King’s Bay. This follows hard on the heels of the egregious, damaging MFL set a few days ago for the Rainbow River.
After listening to dozens of intelligent, caring people, some who are scientists as much or more qualified as any of the water management district, the governing board of SWFWMD went against the will of the many and followed the will of the regime in power in Tallahassee.
We expect the same will happen in Brooksville next Tues., but we must not stay home and remain silent. We must tell them we are not hoodwinked by their flawed science, where they choose to ignore data that disprove their case.
Please come out and speak to the members of the governing board, and at least try to make them a little uncomfortable when they sign off on helping to destroy your children’s children’s river.
2379 Broad St
Brooksville, FL 34604
9 am – 12
Yes, you are right, this is the Crystal River and not the Santa Fe River. But it is a Florida river and our counterparts up here work for the same boss, who wants industry and development more than our rivers. So it is all the same, we are not separate, we are one.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Guest column: Make your voice heard on MFLs
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 8:14 pm
There is a quiet riot underway in north Florida in general, and Citrus County in particular. The people are digging in their heels and with persistence, determination and the strength of unity, standing firm in objection to pending water management rule development by the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).
For the Chronicle
The point of the objection is simple. All waters of Citrus County and neighboring counties are deeply stressed. Recently adopted and pending rules by SFWMD promise to further degrade these waters at our expense. After determination by the state that all of our coastal springs and the Rainbow River are impaired by nutrient pollution and degraded by the algae that proliferates as a result, SFWMD has, on the basis of water supply planning, determined it is reasonable to reduce flows to those springs. In a regulatory sense, Rainbow River just lost 5 percent of natural flow. Crystal River and King’s Bay are about to lose 11 percent in the same fashion.
Oddly enough, SFWMD has other obligations under Florida statute in addition to water supply. They are flood control, water quality and the protection of natural systems. The law does not assign a priority to these responsibilities, nor does it provide the authority to ignore one in pursuit of another. In short, it is a broad and comprehensive mandate.
Politely put, we are not aligned with the official view, or even faintly amused.
The issue at hand is algae, nutrients, and a slow leisurely trip to greener pastures by waters that begin clear and subsequently convert to liquid guacamole. It is a public health hazard and has a negative impact on our economy. So serious is this problem in King’s Bay that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) set a goal of .23 milligrams per liter (Mgl) concentration for nitrate in Kings Bay. This is substantially below the adopted state standard of .35 mgl for clear water spring systems.
SFWMD estimates in certain scenarios of natural flow, the proposed rule will increase the time it takes water to migrate from the springs to the Gulf from today’s average of about 11 days to as much as 16 days. Along the way, the groundwater that feeds the springs will absorb greater nutrient loads as a result of the estimated sevenfold increase in demand satisfied by the contributing basin.
Did you know virtually all of the King’s Bay Basin is within the jurisdictional authority of Citrus County, and the county commission recently voted to forward a letter of objection to SFWMD over this matter? I’m inclined to give them a kiss on the cheek next time I see them, but they will likely object. Suffice to say, I have observed nothing in my years as a resident of the county which so uniformly united our sentiments.
At present, SFWMD estimates that only about 1.5 percent of the system’s 70-plus springs’ natural flow has been diverted by our many wells in the basin. They anticipate a demand of 2.1 percent by 2035 at the end of their current planning period and will review the rule every 10 years, or until Daffy Duck is elected president; whichever occurs first. I don’t recall where I read that last part, by the way.
Why the rush? They have the authority to adjust the authorized allocation from the spring system with each review cycle. Why leap off the cliff tomorrow? Maybe that is a harsh judgment, but here are a few factoids to ponder. Staff submits that because there is no specific study of King’s Bay as relates to nutrient pollution and residence time, that it is acceptable to defer the issue for further study, and march boldly into the future. The staff recommendations are predicated on the thought that they will preclude the onset of “significant harm” to the system with this determination. SFWMD’s arbitrary definition of significant harm threshold is 15 percent loss of habitat, that being based on current conditions, not those that existed before we made a mess of affairs. Please ponder the hundreds of millions of dollars it will cost to begin remediation of the causes even as we disregard the looming increase of nutrient pollution which will result from the methodical increase of groundwater pumping for a variety of purposes such as residential development, agriculture, industry and so forth. The catch in this affair is that once a water use permit has been issued, it is difficult to modify or restrict the permit. It is a 30-year permit.
Consider how much fun we will have on our lovely green bay at sunset as we remember years past when they contributed something in the neighborhood of $200 million per year to our economy.
Remember those times when it was fun to swim in the clear, cool waters on a hot summer day?
If per chance you wish to share your thoughts to SFWMD’s governing board, a public hearing for this rule adoption will occur on May 23 at the SFWMD facility in Brooksville. There is no need to be bashful, we are all in this together.
Dan Hilliard is a member of the Florida Springs Council and Kings Bay Springs Alliance