Although agriculture is responsible for most of the pollution in the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers, we must support farms and ranches. What is necessary for sustainability is that much less fertilizer and water be used. This must happen whatever it takes – different crops, smaller yields, assistance from the state- whatever it takes.
A good first step is for our agencies and decision-makers to face the fact that continuing the present course is impossible. That is a big first step for some who are not accustomed to thinking ahead.
Thanks to OSFR board member David Vaina for submitting this article.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Title: Support for local, small farms announced
The just-released “2021-2022 Springs Funding Report” published by the Florida Springs Council draws attention once again on the devastating impact that nitrogen loading continues to have on our springs’ water quality.
That impact is transferred to the Santa Fe River, As the Florida Springs Institute notes, “nitrate nitrogen concentrations in individual Santa Fe River springs have increased between 1,000 and 80,000 percent, and by an average of 2,600 percent in the Lower Santa Fe River” over the last seventy years. As much as 85% of that nitrogen pollution in Florida’s Springs is a result of agricultural practices and the nitrogen overloads in the spring flows overwhelmingly account for the nitrogen problems in the Santa Fe River.
Of course, there are many variables at play when we analyze the Florida springs’ and Santa Fe River’s quality issues but agriculture–and its intensive use of nitrogen fertilizer-is a critical one. There are, correspondingly, many solutions to excessive nitrogen loads including regulating nonpoint sources of pollution as well as point sources. This week, one very modest solution was announced by Alachua County’s Office of Resilience, Climate Change, and Sustainability. A small amount of grant monies will be made available to small farmers and ranchers in the County to support their operations. Here in Alachua County, there are a number of small certified organic and sustainable farms who may be using less nitrogen fertilizer, and we should encourage any ways to support them. Small farms are also critical to our local economy and most are very transparent about their agricultural practices and are willing to discuss them at one of the many wonderful farmers’ markets in Alachua County.