PALATKA, Fla., July 29, 2016 — Now that the Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area is in public ownership and opened for recreation in late May, the St. Johns River Water Management District has begun work to improve the quality of water leaving the property and flowing to the nearby Silver River.
“We have accomplished a great deal in a very short time. One purpose in buying the property in December 2015 was to protect the headwaters of creeks that flow into the Outstanding Florida Waters of the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “I’m excited to move forward with a demonstration project that will help us decide what tools and methods are needed to reduce or eliminate sediment-laden storm water flowing from the property, which will help to protect the Silver Springs springshed.”
The district is preparing to launch an erosion control project that will include planting vegetative cover to reduce turbid runoff from entering the spring run. The turbid discharge is a result of storm water carrying sediment from the property. Additionally, the construction of ditch blocks and swales along shallow roadside ditches, onsite creeks and shallow flow ways on the property will help to reduce erosion and runoff.
A demonstration project is currently under way to determine what methodology will be necessary to reduce the speed and direction of the turbid runoff and to allow the sediment to drop out of the water column and be collected behind barriers onsite. That way, the sediment can be removed rather than flowing to Silver Springs and Silver River.
District staff are currently installing 12-inch compost logs made of synthetic fiber encasing an all-natural mulch material. The compost logs will absorb the sediment-laden runoff and trap water behind them, allowing the sediment to settle out onsite. If the demonstration project is successful, the next phase is expected to include the installation of a more permanent erosion and sediment control system.
To learn more about the district’s springs protection projects or about recreational opportunities at Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area, visit www.sjrwmd.com.