Indeed, over-pumping and over-fertilizing has resulted in degraded springs. And, also indeed, the BMAPS are not the solution. Mr. Tubbs describes the problem but not the cure.
Certainly the solution is not to drive the farmer out. We already have subsidies from the state and the federal government and a plan must be made which will allow the springs to be restored yet keep the farmers in business.
It will take a strong leader in Florida to take this on; a tall order and inevitable, but one we must consider seriously and the sooner the better.
Read the complete article here in the Gainesville Sun.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Protecting springs poses challenges for farmers
In Florida, there is a large inherent value placed on our waterways and more specifically our springs. In recent years there has been a degradation in the quality and functionality of many springs throughout Florida.
Affected springs in Florida are experiencing lower flow rates as well as increased groundwater nutrient concentrations. A combination of these factors, as well as others, has led to an increase in algal species around the heads of many of these springs. As a result of this shift in vegetation and species found around the springs, the associated aesthetic and economic value has decreased.
With efforts to improve the quality of the springs, non-point source pollution and agriculture water withdrawals have been accused of contributing to the higher nutrient concentrations, lower flow rates and ultimately the degradation of the springs.
Despite nutrient levels showing little correspondence with the quality of the spring, there has been a goal to implement 100% of agricultural BMPs within five years. This goal puts a lot of pressure on farmers to implement these practices as they are often costly or decrease the profitability of the farm….
I am hoping that a solution can be reached where farming is still profitable for farmers and there can be maintenance of Florida’s beautiful springs.
Ben Tubbs is a graduate student at the University of Florida.