Florida springs are a “crystal flood,” “almost as transparent as the air we breathe,” “so extremely clear as to be absolutely diaphanous or transparent as the ether,” an “enchanting and amazing crystal fountain,” “the blue ether of another world,” “cerulean ether,” a “silvery bed”—William Bartram
There is nothing like it in the world; the exhilaration and pure delight of jumping into 72 degree clear cerulean springs on a hot day in the secret places and sacred spaces of Florida’s hidden treasures.
I’ve never felt such pure euphoria and connection to my surroundings as those times swimming in the natural Florida springs. There, bubbling and gurgling out from below, tickling my toes – daring me to dive into its depths I witnessed the primordial bubbles gushing volumes of our most precious resource on Earth, and I was in awe of nature in its purest form. From the first time and after each subsequent visit to our state’s liquid gems I still feel as though I am witness to something so sacred that I have no choice but to protect it, and share my love for these amazing places.
Florida’s springs provide immeasurable natural, recreational and economic values for residents and visitors. The mere mention of springs evokes, in most people, something magical, mysterious, pure, and visceral.
“We are truly blessed to live in a state so abundant in environmental riches, with more than 600 miles of beautiful beaches, over 900 freshwater springs, more than 11 million acres of wetlands and, our own national treasure, the Florida Everglades. Our waterways and natural spaces are not just objects of beauty but foundational to the health of our two ecos — Florida’s ecosystem and Florida’s economy”- Protecting what is precious in Florida by Steve Crisafulli serving as speaker of the House for the 2015-16 legislative sessions.
Since geologists have estimated there are over 900 springs in the State of Florida, representing perhaps the largest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth, the question begs to be answered, “Where are all of these springs stemming from?” The source of the springs in the main 39 counties of Florida is ground water. The majority of the springs, including all first-magnitude springs, discharge from the Floridian aquifer, the underground limestone reservoir that many thought could provide unlimited amounts of water. Yet, within the last 40 years, some springs have dried up or have been severely limited in flow.
Many of Florida’s springs during the past 30 years have turned green with algae because of nitrogen in groundwater from various sources including septic tanks, fertilizer and sewage treatment plants. Fixing the problems cost lots of money, and preventing further pollution requires regulations that are unpopular with rural landowners.
The 2014 Senate bill, SB 1576, established springs protection zones with prohibited uses, provided more than $300 million for wastewater treatment, and increased the standard in state law to protect groundwater flowing to springs against over-pumping. This year, Senate legislation, SB 918, started with the prohibited uses and tougher standard against over-pumping. But those have been weakened or rewritten in the face of opposition from agriculture and industry groups. Some environmentalists are saying that springs protection they hoped for this year won’t happen unless strong protective language is restored in the Senate bill, which now appears unlikely.- St. Petersblog.com
Polluted springs, a falling water table, and scary algae blooms are Florida’s chilling new reality. In thrall to agriculture, economic special interests, and a carpetbagger governor who doesn’t understand that the diseases of our springs reflect the condition of our drinking water, our shortsighted state agencies refuse to enforce the laws that could reverse the damage that’s been done to our springs. (And despite Big Ag’s repeated claims to the contrary, agriculture represents less than 2 percent of Florida’s economy.) -awordwitch.blogspot.com
See just how bad with this cool Florida Slime Crime Tracker tracks Florida’s waterways that are plagued by slime caused by fertilizer, sewage and animal manure.
Florida’s water faces serious threats including drought, over pumping, saltwater intrusion, and pollution caused by runoff from development and agriculture, within sensitive watersheds. These threats are confounded by funding cuts to water management districts, failure to fund the Florida Forever program, top down water management from the state instead of regional districts, talk of piping water from one watershed to another, and moves toward privatizing water as a commodity instead of treating water as a public resource.
I love how AWordWitch also perfectly points out the importance of our natural treasures with this beautiful imagery:
“Diving into a spring was a baptism, a rebirth into a world of boundless purity, a transfiguration from solid earth-bound creature to fluid water nymph. Clear as air, the water sparkled and shone with a thousand rainbow lights. The flows coming out of the spring vents were so strong they could push you backwards when you swam against them. Lush, green plants bent and swirled in the currents like bright dancers on an underwater stage. To immerse in a spring was to taste paradise. You knew, instinctually and immediately, that these springs are sacred, like other waters throughout the world whose people have known them to be sacred for thousands of years.”
But Florida’s freshwater springs are different—they are the greatest concentration of such springs in the world. Our springs heartland isn’t just ours; it’s the springs heartland of the whole planet. Florida’s springs are the world’s to love, but they are ours to care for—and we must do that.
Springs are bowls of liquid light.–Marjory Stoneman Douglas
She goes on to say something we all need to not just listen to, but heed before it’s too late:
We have a singular responsibility to try to convey to young folks, and to people who are seeing the springs for the first time, what healthy springs are like and what we must do to restore our springs to health. To reach that goal, we have to muster enough citizens who care. We have to build a groundswell of people who will vote wisely and demand changes in the ways we are using our water. –Read full article at: awordwitch.blogspot
What can I do to help?
- Minimize water usage!
- Wise landscaping; i.e. save water by planting native plants
- Minimize use of fertilizers and pesticides
- Support community and political leaders that are committed to the protection of our springs
- Join the Florida Conservation Coalition
If your homeowners’ association objects to planting Florida native plants in your yard, tell them that Florida-friendly landscaping is part of state law. [ Florida Statute 373.185 prohibits government entities and homeowners associations from enacting or enforcing any governing document to prevent homeowners from implementing Florida-friendly landscaping (FFL) principles.]
Speak Up for Silver Springs Petition Download, sign, and distribute the FCC petition to protect Silver River & Silver Springs.
Click floridasprings.org here for more ways to help.
Click here to figure out your water footprint with this cool calculator.
After the short questionnaire, I learned mine is 1524 cubic meters per year, and after the extended version found out it’s 2555 cubic meter per year!! WOW!! Seeing that number in black and white makes me cringe, and I feel embarrassed…completely. So, even though I thought I was doing my part and everything I could to help our environment, well…the numbers show, NOT.
So, on to lowering my water footprint along with my environmental impact by eating less meat or becoming vegetarian (or at least partial vegetarian), even by cutting out meat for just one day a week would make a huge impact if everyone did it! Also by drinking tea instead of coffee, or even better drinking plain water. Also, not wearing cotton but artificial fiber clothing saves a lot of water. Who knew? I always thought cotton was better than synthetic fibers…hmmmm, maybe hemp could replace this, or is that just as bad as cotton when it comes to a water footprint? Learn more at; waterfootprint.org
You’ve probably heard about reducing energy use by buying local. But the energy savings there pales compared to going veggie. As the Organic Consumers put it, “It’s how food is produced, not how far it is transported, that matters most for global warming, according to new research published in ES&T.” The authors of that study say, “Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products … achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.” (Carnegie-Mellon University) Brighter Planet agrees that ditching meat is far more important than buying local. –michaelbluejay.com
Ultimately, these changes require that we recognize that there are real limits to growth in each springshed. Residential areas which consume 500 gallons of water per acre per day need to be offset by large areas of low water use or no water use. We need to provide incentives to promote sustainable land uses, such as longleaf pine forests which protect surface and groundwater. Lowering nitrate levels may require that the overall nitrogen loads from animal manure, fertilizer and human waste water be reduced by 70%. One alternative is to use groundwater recharge wetlands to remove nutrients and pollutants from the water and recharge the aquifer with clean water. It is long past time for us to embrace and engage the politics and economics of scarcity by conserving water both at a personal and a public level.
“Florida springs will not protect themselves; those who know and love them must protect them”—Jim Stevenson, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
What are YOU going to do? Will you be a fighter for our future?
Resources and More:
the Florida Conservation Coalition
Florida’s Slime Crimes on FB:
Florida’s Slime Grime Tracker Map
Join these great FB pages liked by Florida Slime Crimes
10 land buys that changed Florida’s history
Visit Florida natural springs see the map of all Florida springs
Are we loving our springs to death?
Citrus County treasures not to miss
Places to see ancient West Coast Florida
Best beaches in Citrus County
5 family friendly fun things to do in Citrus County
Top 5 things to do in Citrus County Florida
Squirrel Tree Frog photos on Florida Nature Coast
Photos of Pileated Woodpecker in Citrus County
Florida Backyard Birds: Ibis
List of Important Websites for People Living in Citrus County
Weeki Wachee Springs Coast Environmental Education Center visit and interview..