UPDATE: On June 17th, St. Johns Riverkeeper, Sierra Club Northeast Florida, Florida Springs Institute, and the Center for Earth Jurisprudence hosted the 2nd annual Springs Forum. A panel of experts provided updates on the current conditions of Silver Springs, the status of the Adena Spring Ranch permit, the science behind the springs crisis and the impacts to the St. Johns River. Click here to access Dr. Robert Knight's eye-opening presentation. Dr. Knight is the Director of the Florida Springs Institute.
Silver Springs, once called "Nature's Underwater Fairyland," was Florida's first major attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world to its magical waters. Silver Springs also provides an important source of fresh, clean water to the St. Johns River system. Cool, clear water bubbles up from the aquifer below flowing from spring vents into the Silver River, which leads to the Ocklawaha River and eventually the St. Johns.
Despite its historical and ecological importance, the health of Silver Springs has declined significantly over the last several decades. Nearly 92% of the fish biomass has disappeared, the flow from the springs has dramatically decreased, algae covers a significant portion of the spring floor, and the water now flashes a hint of green instead of silver. This is due to impacts from encroaching development, overpumping of groundwater, loss of aquifer recharge areas, runoff of fertilizer from farms and lawns, and poorly treated wastewater.
Now, Adena Springs Ranch is seeking a permit to withdraw over 5.3 million gallons of water a day to operate a massive cattle operation of more than 15,000 head of cattle located within the springshed of this highly polluted springs system.
Silver Springs and many of Florida's other springs are at a critical crossroads. Do we continue with business as usual and allow more pumping and pollution to occur from operations like Adena Springs Ranch, or do we get serious about protecting and restoring our springs right now?
You can submit comments regarding the Adena Springs Ranch permit on the St. Johns River Water Management District website and learn more about Silver Springs and this important issue by clicking here.