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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

State launches septic tank website

Published 5/22/2012 Citrus Daily
he Florida Department of Health (DOH) on Friday unveiled a new web site designed to assist localities on the new septic tank requirements outlined in House Bill 1263.

Local governments where there is a first magnitude spring must either adopt the evaluation program by passing a local ordinance or opt out by a vote of the governing board.

The website is located at http://myfloridaeh.com/septictanksystems/ If you have questions, call your county or city commission or your local County Health Department and request information about septic tank inspections.
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Sonny Vergara: Don't be silent about Florida's water crisis

Published May 23, 2012 The Gainesville Sun (Opinion)
While one can hear the wailing of those with a particular emotional appreciation for Florida's natural environment, the silence from the majority of Floridians is deafening. Have they become numb to the reality that these unique natural treasures are being taken from them and have simply given up hope that anything can be done to stop it?

"Glass-Bottom Boat Tours over the spring basin have become the exception rather than the rule in recent years. Tea-stained or green water impedes the penetration of light needed to view the impressive features of the 120-foot-deep chasm of Wakulla Spring. Heavy rains, combined with other unknown factors, are thought to be the cause of decreased visibility."

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Point of View: Commercial, lawn pumping drying up Florida's springs

Published May 20, 2012 Florida Times-Union
The absence of normal rainfall in north central Florida has revealed an inconvenient truth — there is little water left in the aquifer to maintain the baseflow of our springs. As long as we have average rainfall, the springs keep flowing and it is easier to believe that long-term flow declines in our springs are just a response to a variable rainfall cycle.

But strip away normal rain and what is left? The lowest flows ever recorded in Silver and Rainbow springs, just to mention two of the most famous springs in the state.

Beginning in 1985, Silver Springs’ average annual flow began to decline at a faster rate than the flow at Rainbow Springs. As a consequence of this accelerated flow decline, in 1998 Silver Springs lost its dominance over Rainbow Springs.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Great Suwannee River Race

Published May 17, 2012 Suwannee Democrat
Homemade rafts some made from “recycled” products will race from Little River Spring to Branford on the Suwannee River in south Suwannee County, Saturday, May 19. Rafts are constructed in such a way that six team members fit wholly onboard with no extremities touching the water, and no mechanical propellers are allowed. The rafts launch at 10 a.m.

The race, under the leadership of Race Director John Hill and his team of Kiwanians and Rotarians, is in its third year. The Kiwanis Club of Live Oak and the Rotary Club of Live Oak sponsor the races with participation by the Town Council of Branford and other local groups.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Water-issue protesters greet UF's Stronach center dedication

Published 5/15/2012 Gainesville Sun
As officials dedicated the facility, dozens of protesters outside the gates picketed against Stronach's bid for a permit to pump more than 13 million gallons of groundwater a day for a cattle operation he plans near Fort McCoy.

"We've got a deficit here that we're not going to make up if we keep issuing new permits," said Robert Knight, director and founder of the H.T. Odum Florida Springs Institute in Gainesville.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How a Lost Rope Swing Captures Everything Wrong with Water Policy

Published May 14, 2012
...when the local water authorities quite literally cut down the rope swing your kids use to plunge themselves into a peaceful, slow-moving Florida river? When officials tell you it’s to protect the river your kids have so enjoyed plunging into over and over? That they are, in fact, protecting the river from your kids?

The same state that cut down the rope swing out over the Suwannee River last year allowed a new permit for a power plant in Jacksonville to take 163 million gallons of water a day from the same river system — that’s 6.8 million gallons of water an hour, enough for a city of 1.5 million people.

Cynthia Barnett is the author of a book about water in Florda, Mirage, and last fall a second book, Blue Revolution, which is about the need for a whole new attitude about water in the U.S., a new water ethic.
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lead letter: Silver Springs water must be protected

Published May 13, 2012 The Florida-Times Union
This first magnitude spring flows from the aquifer into the Silver River before converging with the Ocklawaha River (a State Aquatic Preserve and Florida Outstanding Water), the largest tributary of the St. Johns River (an American Heritage River.
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Video: Suwannee River rushes into White Sulphur Spring

Published March 17, 2012 Suwannee Democrat
In the 1800s, the sulphur spring was promoted as a cure for just about any ailment and visitors came to swim in the healing waters. After a log hotel was built beside the spring it became a popular health resort and one of Florida's first tourist destinations. In the late 1800s, 14 luxury hotels, as well as other boarding houses in the area, accommodated the visitors who arrived by special excursion train.
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Beware flying sturgeons in the Suwanee River, warn state officials

Published May 11, 2012
A 31-year-old Old Town man was injured Friday when a sturgeon that had jumped out of the Suwannee River in front of his boat hit him.

This is first sturgeon strike in 2012, according to Major Roy Brown, regional commander of the FWC's North Central Region.

The Suwannee River supports a large population of Gulf sturgeon, 10,000-14,000 fish averaging approximately 40 pounds each.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Alachua County not represented on water districts' “stakeholder” group

Published May 10, 2012 The Gainesville Sun
The historic lows of rivers, lakes and springs in the two districts and public concerns that groundwater pumping in Northeast Florida was affecting water bodies and groundwater levels in the more rural Suwannee district led the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the two water management districts to formalize an agreement in September to work more closely on water issues.

Under their North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership, the districts will work cooperatively in planning and permitting decisions, use shared science and processes in setting minimum flows and levels — or mfls — for water bodies and coordinate efforts on restoring water bodies that do not meet those mfls.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Home to Weeki Wachee Spring, Hernando County opts out of septic tank inspections

Published May 9, 2012 Tampa Bay Times
The County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to opt out of a state mandate that requires counties and municipalities with large springs to adopt an inspection ordinance. Hernando County is home to Weeki Wachee Spring, one of 33 first-magnitude springs in Florida.

"If we contaminate the groundwater beneath a septic tank, that water is flowing toward a neighbor or toward a river," Stevenson said. "Sometimes, when something's political like septic tanks, you have to take baby steps, and one of the first steps is raising homeowner awareness."
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Wakulla's park in need has Friends in deed

Published May 9, 2012 Tallahassee Democrat
Begun in 1996, the Friends group has tirelessly fought to protect and clean the aquifer feeding the springs. It helped to defeat a proposed water bottling plant nearby and it has pushed back efforts to open a large RV campground near the springs. In many ways, the Friends group is the conscience and voice for the park since park personnel are often constrained from taking sides on issues.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Canadian water bottling company buys former Coca-Cola plant in Gilchrist

Published May 4, 2012 The Gainesville Sun
The company purchased the plant, at 7100 NE CR 340, for $8.5 million, according to Gilchrist County records.

Ice River Springs will purchase water from the Seven Springs Water Company, which has an existing permit from the Suwannee River Water Management District to pump an average of 1.15 million gallons per day from wells at Ginnie Springs.
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Hernando poised to become first county to opt out of septic tank inspections

Published 05/07/2012
Hernando County is poised to become the first county to opt out of requiring septic tank inspections under HB 1263.

The 19 counties with the largest "first-magnitude" springs (with flows exceeding 64.6 million gallons per day) are required to conduct limited inspections unless they first opt out by Jan. 1, 2013

Conventional septic tanks, he said, do little to prevent nitrogen from reaching groundwater, regardless of whether they are operating properly. He said fertilizer use is a larger culprit in causing springs to become choked with algae, along with excessive pumping that threatens the future flow of groundwater to springs.
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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

County may flush septic rule

May 2, 2012 Tampa Bay Times
Two years ago, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill requiring septic tanks to be inspected once every five years. This past session the Legislature repealed the law.

There was a caveat, though. Counties and municipalities with first magnitude springs would still be required to adopt a septic tank inspection ordinance unless the local governing bodies voted by a super majority to opt out of that requirement.
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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Editorial: Way down on the Suwannee

Published April 30, 2012 Ocala.com
The evidence is mounting that over-pumping — both in the Suwannee district and in the neighboring St. Johns River district — is steadily lowering aquifer levels and all but destroying once-healthy springs. Even a return to “normal” rainfall won’t erase that pumping deficit.
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Paul Clark: One Man, Many Springs

By Eleanor K. Sommer Posted on April 3, 2012
Recent article about my work documenting the Florida Springs.
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5-year septic tank inspection mandate eliminated

Published April 30, 2012 HistoricCity News
Historic City News reporters learned that a controversial statewide septic tank mandate, passed by the Florida Legislature in 2010, was eliminated when Governor Rick Scott signed HB-1263 into law Friday; over objections from the Sierra Club, who requested a veto.

Of Florida’s more than 700 recognized springs, only 33 discharge more than 64 million gallons of water per day; qualifying them as “first magnitude springs”. Of those springs, located in nineteen Florida counties, none is located in St Johns County.
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