Silent On Springs, Editorial By Nathan Crabbe

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Nathan Crabbe, Gainesville Sun

Nathan Crabbe, ever faithful to our water resources, has written another fine article in the Gainesville Sun exposing more failures by our leaders regarding our springs.  You can read the original editorial here, or continue in this post for a reproduction.  Again, OSFR is grateful to the Sun and Nathan Crabbe for permission to re-publish the article in full on our website.

Silent on Springs

Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 22, 2014 at 1:28 p.m.

As springs advocates listened Thursday, state environmental scientists tried to explain how a plan to clean up nitrate-polluted Silver Springs would work. They threw out big numbers — for example, 12 million pounds of nitrogen is put on the ground within the half-million-acre springshed annually — and big plans for stemming the steady deterioration of our springs and drinking water.

But in the end, the scientists conceded they just don’t know how well the Florida Department of Environmental Protections Basin Management Action Plan will work. A big question mark is whether the implementation of agricultural “best practices” that have no sanctions for non-compliance will have enough impact, if any.

In the end, the scientists admitted they are not even sure the plan will lead to the springs being cleaned up, let alone achieving the 79 percent reduction in nitrates the agency has set as its goal.

We hear the lip service that Gov. Rick Scott and his administration give to saving Florida’s 700-plus natural springs. Sure, the state ponied up $30 million for springs protection this month, money that was matched by another $39 million in local and water management district money. But, as we have noted before, the state’s five water management districts have said they would need $120 million the first year to get serious about springs restoration.

Certainly we are thankful for what springs funding has been allocated, but it simply is not enough, because when we talk about our springs we are talking about our drinking water. Why do our politicians not recognize that and speak up loudly?

Not only are some of our local representatives in Tallahassee and Washington not vocal advocates for saving our springs and protecting our water supply, some of them are actually helping to facilitate their further degradation.

When the U.S. House this month voted on H.R. 5078, the disingenuously named Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, which would take federal authority over wetlands permitting and other water oversight in Florida away from federal officials, our own U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, voted in favor of it. It is a horrible piece of legislation that would turn regulatory authority of wetlands and waterways over to state officials, who have allowed our springs, rivers and lakes to become polluted and dying as Scott caters to big corporate donors rather than our water supply in crisis.

Closer to home, state Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, has shown welcome gumption in pursuing meaningful springs legislation. Our hometown state representative, however, Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, backed springs legislation last session only after it had been weakened and had no chance of passage.

Our springs and water supply are increasingly polluted and disappearing. When, we wonder, are our representatives going to quit genuflecting to party bosses and big campaign donors and start speaking up for our interests? This is about water. It’s our lifeblood.

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