We continue to make progress, but work remains to Free the Ocklawaha River.
While we are disappointed the Florida Legislature failed to take action to reunite Silver Springs, the Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers during the recent legislative session, our collective efforts continue to build signficant momentum towards a free-flowing Ocklawaha. The overwhelming support and commitment of people up and down The Great Florida Riverway have brought us closer to restoration than ever before.
Fortunately, Governor DeSantis has the authority, available funding and the urgent need to take action now.
A Dangerous Dam Past Its Life Expectancy
The release of the updated Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Dam Safety Assessment is long overdue. FDEP committed to releasing the report this month. Previous assessments have indicated the dam is a significant safety hazard, putting more than 500 homes in harm’s way should the aging dam fail. The status quo is clearly not an option. Restoration can’t wait.
St. Johns River Estuary and Fishing Economy at Stake
Due to overuse of our aquifer, dredging, storms and increasing saltwater intrusion, the river’s underwater grasses are disappearing, the cypress forest wetlands are stressed, and fish habitat is vanishing within the St. Johns River estuary from Welaka to Palatka to Jacksonville. The loss of our river’s submerged grasses also increases the threat of toxic blue green algae and flood risk throughout the lower St. Johns.
Breaching the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam to restore the natural flow of more than 150 million gallons a day of additional clear, spring-fed water to the St. Johns River will improve water clarity, allow more sunlight penetration and offset saltwater intrusion. Restoration can’t wait.
Manatees Dying at an Alarming Rate
In 2021, more than 13% of Florida’s manatee population died from starvation. Breaching the Rodman Dam will provide access to essential habitat and sources of food for hundreds of manatees during a time of crisis. Restoration can’t wait.
Recognized as one of the most beneficial springs restoration projects in Florida, a free-flowing Ocklawaha will restore more than 20 springs lost beneath the Rodman pool and will improve the health of iconic Silver Springs. Restoration can’t wait.
Strong, Bi-Partisan Support
Multiple surveys and polls demonstrate a high level of support for restoration throughout the state and within the counties surrounding the actual dam. At the request of local officials, additional polling was recently completed focusing exclusively on residents of Putnam County where the dam is located. The poll found that nearly 75% of likely voters in the county support breaching the dam and restoring the natural flow of the Ocklawaha, with only 7% in opposition.
Call to Action – Restoration Can’t Wait
Contact Governor DeSantis today to let him know that restoration of the Ocklawaha River can’t wait and is critical to the health and resiliency of the St. Johns River.
Thank you to everyone who contacted your legislators during the legislative session and shared this important call-to-action with your friends, family, and networks. However, we can’t let up now. The science, economics, and public opinion are clearly on our side, with momentum and the case for restoration stronger than ever. A free-flowing Ocklawaha is within sight. Restoration can’t wait – and neither can we. Take action now to finally free the Ocklawaha!