Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Bill Would Save Florida's Springs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Bill Would Save Florida's Springs

Article excerpt

Byline: Ron Littlepage

Now is the time to stand up for Florida's iconic but endangered springs.

Five state senators, all of whom are in leadership positions and who represent counties in North and Central Florida where many of our springs are suffering, are pushing legislation to do just that.

A HEALTHIER ST. JOHNS AS WELL

What Sens. Charles Dean, Alan Hays, Bill Montford, David Simmons and Wilton Simpson want to do is not only critical for saving the springs from further degradation and to restore them, the bill also would improve the health of the St. Johns River, which gets much of its flow from springs.

The challenge is daunting.

Prolonged drought and over pumping of the Floridan aquifer have reduced the springs' flow, and an overload of nitrates has filled the springs with damaging algae, with the world famous Silver Springs a prime example of both.

Those nitrates come from fertilizer spread on lawns, storm water runoff, wastewater treatment plants, agriculture, livestock and septic tanks.

The springs protection bill would for the first time provide a secure source of funding, set deadlines and require immediate action based on scientific evidence of what's causing the problems and the best way to go about reversing the decline.

The answers could vary for each springshed.

THE NEED IS OBVIOUS

The Senate Agriculture Committee, chaired by Montford, passed the bill unanimously Monday.

"Anybody who goes and looks at a spring knows it's no solution to do nothing," Simmons told the committee before the vote.

But there are detractors who will try to stop the bill or weaken it as it moves through the process, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Industries of Florida, developers, some counties and anti-government, property-rights, septic-tank advocates. …

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