Message from Dr. Ann Shortelle

We’re committed to springs protection

April 23, 2020

Alexander Spring run in the Ocala National Forest.
Alexander Spring run in the Ocala National Forest.

Florida’s springs are iconic. It is as true today as when William Bartram explored our peninsula in the 1700s. Throughout April, the St. Johns River Water Management District is once again participating with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and our state’s other water management districts to celebrate Springs Protection Awareness Month.

Our District is home to 148 identified springs, making protecting Florida’s springs and the Upper Floridan aquifer which sustains them among the highest priorities for the District. The challenge for water managers is protecting the environment while meeting people’s water needs and allowing for our continued enjoyment of these unique natural resources. The District has worked with other agencies for many years to increase knowledge and understanding about the region’s springs, while also working to protect them, guided by the very latest science.

Many of the District’s projects benefit springs. One aspect of this work includes the District’s co-funding of 126 projects to protect our Outstanding Florida Springs in the past six years. Since 2014, through District cost-share programs, we have contributed more than $48.5 million toward vital springs protection projects, resulting in more than 96 million gallons per day (mgd) of groundwater withdrawal offsets and alternative water supply. These projects also have reduced total nitrogen loading near priority spring systems by more than 1 million pounds per year.

Two current examples of cost-share projects benefiting springs are in Volusia and Marion counties. The Volusia County advanced wastewater treatment project will improve Blue Spring’s water quality by upgrading the wastewater treatment process, adding capacity to accommodate the future connection of existing septic tanks, and eliminating a small community wastewater plant known as the Four Towns package plant. The city of Ocala is using District cost-share funding to construct three water supply wells in the Lower Floridan aquifer with a total capacity of 15 mgd. These new wells are expected to restore 9 mgd of flow to Silver Springs by shifting pumping from the Upper to the Lower Floridan aquifer and moving the water’s withdrawal four miles further from the springs. This multi-year project is part of the Silver Springs Prevention Strategy.

I encourage you all to do your part to help protect these wondrous assets as part of our “Water Less” outdoor water conservation campaign and I invite you to visit the springs virtually through the District’s website and social media postings. At www.sjrwmd.com/springs you’ll find newly developed background images for your computer and mobile devices so you can always have your favorite springs close at hand.

Thanks to our District team and our many partners for all the work being done to preserve our precious spring systems!

See our past stories