Florida Springs Support All Florida Life
Each year when winter travelers head south to Florida, one place that many seek to visit are the gin-clear spring-fed lakes and waterways. Visitors can see fish 25 feet down and they appear to be just a few feet away. The water is clear and uncontaminated, and the Florida conservation folks and legislators seem to share one common goal to assure that these unique ecosystems are maintained for future generations.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, there is a plan and there is funding.
Springs Funding Projects 2016-17
Florida is home to more large (first and second magnitude) springs than any other state in the country. Springs are the window into the health of our groundwater, which is the source of 90 percent of drinking water for Floridians.
Some springs support entire ecosystems with unique plants and animals. They also flow into other rivers that are dependent on the spring’s clean fresh water. Additionally, Florida’s springs offer many recreational opportunities such as swimming, kayaking and diving, attracting visitors from all over the world and serving as economic drivers for our communities.
Under Governor Scott and the Legislature, the state of Florida has made an unprecedented financial commitment to springs restoration, funding nearly $275 million over the last four years specifically for spring restoration. This record funding has enabled the department to assist local governments and other stakeholders to identify and construct projects that are imperative to achieving restoration goals. Projects awarded during the first year are already expected to reduce 847,376 pounds of nutrient pollution and conserve 24.1 million gallons of water per day for our aquifers.
Fiscal Year 2016-17
More than $89 million in springs projects will be leveraged from the over $56 million investment from Governor Rick Scott’s 2016-17 “FLORIDA FIRST” budget. This brings the total investment by the state and local governments in spring projects to nearly $275 million in the past four years.
The 35 projects statewide, funded through the FY 2016-17 appropriation include:
- Southwest Florida Water Management District (Crystal River/Kings Bay springs, Homosassa Springs, Weeki Wachee Springs and the Upper Floridian Aquifer) – A total investment of nearly $15 million for seven projects including water reclamation, central sewer expansion and advanced wastewater treatment.
- St. Johns River Water Management District (Silver, Volusia Blue and Wekiva springs, as well as the Wekiva River and the Upper Floridian Aquifer) – A total investment of more than $24 million for eight projects including land acquisition, water reclamation and aquifer recharge and central sewer connection.
- Suwannee River Water Management District (Fanning, Hart, Ichetucknee, Otter, Poe, Pot and Wacissa springs as well as the Suwannee and Withlacoochee rivers and the Floridian Aquifer) – A total investment of more than $31 million for 12 projects including central sewer expansion and enhanced agricultural water quality management practices projects.
- Northwest Florida Water Management District (Cypress, Econfina, Gainer, Jackson Blue and Wakulla springs) – A total investment of more than $19 million for eight projects including land acquisition, central sewer connection and improved management practices projects.
To learn more about Florida Springs, visit: http://www.floridasprings.org/learn/.