Springs Can Be Saved From Total Destruction

Panel from the Springs Restoration Summit. Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Rick Kilby, Johnny Dame, Margaret Tolbert and Whitey Markel

Dr. Robert Knight, OSFR member and advisor, has written in the  Gainesville Sun an article about the recent Florida Springs Restoration Summit at the College of Central Florida in Ocala.  This was an extremely important happening, as it brought together many of the key players in the issue of springs deterioration.  Also it is likely  that  many of the springs destroyers, both state and in industry, even if they were not there, were made more aware of the concern regarding this issue.

Following is an abbreviated version of the article.  For the complete piece, go to this link.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-

Springs can be saved from total destruction


Posted Oct 6, 2016 at 2:00 AM

Last weekend, springs experts, advocates and the interested public convened to review the health of Florida’s springs and to develop a plan for their recovery. The Florida Springs Council, an alliance of 37 organizations representing more than 150,000 members, hosted the Florida Springs Restoration Summit at the College of Central Florida in Ocala.

A total of 55 speakers summarized the current status of springs science and management, and the regulatory, legislative, and legal remedies for springs protection. Their message was clear: Florida’s springs are dying due to excessive development and lax enforcement of environmental laws, and this train wreck can only be stopped by the coordinated efforts of the concerned public and state officials.

Hydrogeologists described their efforts to use improved models to better manage groundwater supplies and the inability of existing models used by regulatory agencies to assess the impacts of groundwater pumping. The detrimental consequences of the state’s use of flawed models for protection of spring flows was illustrated with case histories from Chassahowitzka and Rainbow springs on the Gulf Coast, where the water management district’s model estimates that only 1 percent of the more than 25 percent actual spring flow decline is due to pumping. To help solve problems due to excessive groundwater extraction, one speaker made a convincing case for universal monitoring and a reasonable fee on all groundwater uses to incentivize water conservation.

However, Florida’s priceless springs can be saved from total destruction. A knowledgeable and concerned public has the power to counteract the seemingly invincible influence of dark money. To paraphrase Margaret Mead: A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens is the only thing that has ever changed the world. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit was a giant step along that pathway.

— Robert Knight is director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. He invites you to join him for Springs Academy Tuesdays at noon on the first Tuesday of every month at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs.

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