Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Policy Director for OSFR, traveled to Dowling Park on Sat. Oct. 24 to spread the message about our Santa Fe River and its underlying aquifer. The venue for the presentation were the large, modern and beautiful facilities of Advent Christian village on the Suwannee River.
The group to which she spoke was large, over 70 interested people from Paddle Florida on a stop-over on a five-day trip down the North Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers. The group put in at Madison Blue Springs State Park on the Withlacoochee and ended the trip at Ivey Memorial Park in Branford, for a total distance of 69 miles.
The presentation covered a wide range of topics that focused on the Santa Fe River and environs, and included some basic information on the river itself, geographical and physical information, the basin and watershed through which it flows, the karst/sinkhole terrain and the aquifer.
Merrillee described the threats which are present and many, among which are the imminent Sabal Trail three-foot wide pipeline which will constitute a real danger to our karst and aquifer, the continual huge and excessive water permits dispersed by the Suwannee River Water Management District which continue to lower the aquifer and damage the river, contrary to and in spite of state laws written to protect them.
Other more wide-spread threats but inclusive to the Santa Fe River discussed in the presentation were climate change/drought conditions now underway which will have long term effects on the river and water supply, the ever-growing shadow of fracking looming on the horizon and the heavy use of fertilizers whose toxic substances have found their way into our rivers and drinking water.
OSFR’s Policy Director is a walking encyclopedia of information on the rivers and springs of North Florida and the problems facing them. She held the attention and interest of her audience throughout the presentation. The large group from Paddle Florida, even though composed mostly of people who respect and love the rivers, learned a great deal, as revealed by the lively question session at the end of the talk.
Public outreach such as this presentation is the most important and successful aspect of the mission of Our Santa Fe River, Inc.