Protect Our Suwannee

Stan Meeks has written a three part article dealing with the health of the Suwannee River which is a comment on the article on the river in the Gainesville Sun.  This article “Beauty, charm, draw visitors to Suwannee River” can be seen in its entirety HERE.   Continue reading for Meeks’ comments:


Subject: A new aspect of Water War – Vaucheria alga – Part 1 of 3
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 11:15:07 -0400

To all Floridians concerned with the health of the Suwannee River:
In reference to a story in today’s Gainesville Sun.
“Beauty, charm draw visitors to Suwannee River”
I believe this article has a dark side that is not being presented to the citizens of Florida.  Here is My Two Cents on the pending death of the Suwannee River.
A new aspect of Water War – Vaucheria alga – Part 1 of 3
A Suwannee River Keepers Observation
Regarding the July 10, 2008 Time story by Michael Grunwald, “Is Florida the Sunset State?” – Hell of a timely, accurate Florida overview, is it not? The only issue left out was an alga, Vaucheria, one of the most toxic.
Most of the green stuff we now see in the fresh water springs and Suwannee River is an alga.  It is Vaucheria alga, not SAV (submerged aquatic vegetation).  For those like me, who had to learn terms in order to save face in front of biologists and other scientists; I had to research what SAV was.  Basically SAV is all plants and grasses that grow in and under freshwater sources such as rivers, springs, swamps and lakes.
Annually the nutrient pollution levels continue to increase from our springs and storm run-offs.  Nutrient pollution feeds the Vaucheria alga that attaches itself to an individual freshwater SAV (plant or grass blade).   The alga’s colony grows rapidly on the SAV plant or grass blade and soon there is enough of the Vaucheria alga to smother the SAV.   It uses two methods to kill the individual SAV.  It consumes twice as much of the water’s oxygen as SAV does and its black hairs prevent enough light for SAV photosynthesis not to occur.
An excellent place to see a large concentration of Vaucheria alga is from the observation deck at Manatee Springs State Park, one of our sickest springs on the Suwannee River.  When you arrive at the Park and after the customary trip to the restroom, go out onto the Observation Deck, look over all the sides, down through all the water. Then look up and down the spring run and the river as far as you can.  99% the green stuff you will see, in and under the water, is a large concentration of Vaucheria alga, which is a highly toxic and undesirable food source for manatees and other marine residents in the Suwannee River.
If Manatee Springs State Park is too far from you to see for yourself, read about the effects of Vaucheria alga at WEKIWA SPRINGS STATE PARK in the Orlando’s Sentinel article
Kevin Spear | Sentinel Staff Writer
July 5, 2008
Simply put, on and in the Lower Suwannee River from the Gulf to Branford, more than 50 miles of river, is suffering from growing excessive Nutrient Pollution that is feeding the Vaucheria alga’s rapid growth.
But why worry about Vaucheria alga and SAV of the Suwannee River, when it is predicted that within 5-10 years all of Florida’s water resources will be so polluted and exhausted they will be not be enough to support our existing population, much less support SAV?
In our lifetime, it is well within society’s power to turn all of Florida into an asphalt and concrete, over-populated desert with dotted with oasises of polluted fresh water.   Half of the job is already done with the Central and South Florida sprawl.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change
the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Meade
A new aspect of Water War – Vaucheria alga Part 2 of 3
Suwanneee River Keepers Observations
The Water War is a fight between the rape and pillage Floridian developers of urban sprawl, along with politicians who turn a blind eye to it,   against all local citizens or groups who demand responsible and sustainable development of our land and water resources.  Meeting the minimum requirements of the law is not responsible and sustainable development;  exceeding them is.
After exhausting the water and land of central and south Florida, the southern water management districts, which killed the Everglades, will not have enough water to support its existing customers in a little as 3-5 years.  In order to support the continually growing urban sprawl in Central and South Florida these water management districts are fully dedicated to pumping water from the St. Johns and Suwannee Rivers.  All the while the Suwannee River and its springs are being invaded by Vaucheria alga.  The lower Suwannee River and its springs are sick and dying and no one will consider the investigation on the effects of Vaucheria alga on water quality and the conservation of water without SAV.
I am far past feelings of rage, regret or remorse… although sometimes I do sit in my little boat on the Suwannee River and shed a tear for the death of our Floridian habitat.  The only way I know to fight this demise is to speak out when and wherever possible, to whomever will listen.
Since I have no political capital or financial resources, my best method of speaking out is e-mailing the verifiable facts to my very private and protected mass emailing list and posting the articles on line, with the URLs so that individuals can verify that I am showing them the truth.  Then the ball is in their court. And I still believe the best, most successful efforts come from a few individuals, rallying to a just and honorable cause.

We must all begin to vote, speak out and e-mail….. This is our power when it comes to saving our rapidly dying Florida habitat. The wealthy rape and pillage developers who are beginning to invade the Suwannee River basin and the politicians who turn a blind eye can expect to meet a few stubborn citizens… ready, willing and able to fight for the conservation of the waters of the Suwannee River basin.

We few, who have made the cognizant decision to fight the invaders, do so in order to ensure clean water conservation and will fight to keep Suwannee River basin water for use in the Suwannee River basin only.  And we demand that only reasonable, sustainable development be allowed in the Suwannee River basin.
Edmund Burke once said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  And as I said earlier, there are a few, good Floridians in the Suwannee River basin ready and willing to stand in the way of the evil rape and pillage developers with “blind eyed” politicians who try to extend their reach into the waters of the Suwannee River basin.

The Water War is real and tomorrow is at stake. You have a personal choice about participation in the Water War, starting right now… be part of the problem, or become part of the solution. There is no more middle-of-the-road for the conservation of Florida’s water because there is precious little pure water left for conservation.

In this Water War the worst thing you can do, is to “Do Nothing“.  In the Part 3 of this email are 10 ways to fight the Water War in Florida, with state and federal web sites to help you find the people to whom you can address your concerns.

The environmental plight of the Suwannee River basin stands on its own merit and does not benefit from being tied to any political issue, even a historical or future one.  The Suwannee River basin will live or die according to the actions of its citizens.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Meade
A new aspect of Water War – Vaucheria alga Part 3 of 3
How do I report a suspected environmental crime?
  • To report environmental crimes, call 1-877-272-8335 (1-877-2 SAVE FL) Wireless customers can dial #DEP.
Top Ten ways to help fight the Florida Water War for conservation:

1. Stay in frequent (at least monthly) contact will all of your county, state and federal elected officials (see list below). In politics the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  Make sure they know exactly how you feel about the water problem in you area, and propose at least one solution.

2. Lend your financial support to proactive groups of conservationists and environmentalists who are trying to find and document new solutions to the Florida Water War.  Every dollar amount is appreciated – even the small ones.

3. Stay alert for small environmental problems in your area.  Report them to the appropriate government agency before they become big environmental problems.  Follow up on your report on a regular basis.

4. Develop a mailing list and share knowledge with like-minded individuals and organizations across the state.

5. “Success breeds success.”  This old saying has a lot of truth in it. There are thousands of people that have successfully reclaimed the health of their habitat.  Knowing
that others have beaten the odds can encourage others to do the same. We want to prevent environmental destruction, not repair the results of environmental destruction.  Share any and all success stories, and be sure to include a URL address that validates your success story.

6. Be politically active.  Standing up for the water rights of others is a way to protect our own. Read the paper, listen to the news, and be aware of politically motivated legislation, environmental violations, unfair water permitting use, and any other issues that further endanger our habitat.  A letter to your governor, senator, or representative has more impact than you might realize. A letter to the editor can reach thousands of voters and alert them to unjust practices. Be aware of what is going on, and invite others to join you in the political process.

7. Education is the best weapon of all.  Turn off the tube, read a book, speak with knowledgeable people, and attend meetings.  Consider lending your voice and expertise at meetings and other public forums. Search out and find common sense answers to your questions and problems.  That is the purpose of our state agencies and elected representatives. Call and ask questions.  That is what they are there for.  Then present the problem and proposed solution(s) to other private citizens, publications, politicians and governmental agencies.

8. Success does not happen by chance; dream, think and plan.  Setting goals and making realistic plans are essential for any dream to come true. Thinking ahead and planning out your responses to environmental dilemmas such as the “rape and pillage” development projects are necessary.  Suggest alternatives that are reasonable, attainable, and sustainable.  After you gather and verify your facts, schedule presentations to any group that will listen.

9. Acceptance of others.  To merely “tolerate” others that have different views from us – whether water conservationists, politicians, developers, etc., we must be aware of any hidden biases on our part.  We cannot allow race, ethnicity, religion, party lines, etc. to stand in the way of protecting our future.  Being “tolerant” is no longer sufficient if we really want to conserve our resources and see them used in the most efficient, sustainable manner. We must look beyond superficial differences and recognize that what we have in common is the desire to protect our resources.  Learn to truly accept others and to accept their help.  We should all be coordinated in our efforts to fight together, whenever possible.

10.  Redouble your efforts to promote conservation and sustainable use of resources. It’s a win-win effort. It’s a noble effort. If every single person reading this recruited ONE friend or family member to join in the fight, we will succeed in reducing the nutrient pollution of water in the Suwannee River basin. Talk to a friend, read our Blog, print a poster, and get the word out at civic group meetings.

But whatever you choose to do, just do not “Do Nothing”.


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