Save Our Suwannee, Inc. is a group of people dedicated to protecting the water quality and quantity in the Suwannee Basin.
The Suwannee Basin is made up of the water sheds and spring sheds that feed the Suwannee River and its tributaries and springs. This basin encompasses all or part of 12 different counties in North Central Florida; and it includes popular springs and rivers such as the Santa Fe River, Ichetucknee Springs, Fanning Springs, Manatee Springs, Little River Springs, and many others. SOS is also dedicated to preserve and protect the soil, flora, birds, animals, wetlands habitat, and underground aquifers from further degradation away from their original pristine state.
Save Our Suwannee can heighten your appreciation of the Suwannee
through learning, activism and fellowship.
What We Do
- Attend and participate in Suwannee River Water Management District Board Meetings and Workshops
- Attend Commission and Council meetings in towns and counties in the watershed.
Monitor local newspapers and media for upcoming projects.
- Work with other environmental advocacy groups on regional issues.
- Work with the Florida Springs Initiative, Columbia County School Board and other agencies to further our educational goals.
- Hold programs regarding local issues at our General Meetings.
- Offer programs about the Suwannee and its tributaries to local clubs and groups.
Issue Press Releases to local media on issues relating to water quality and quantity.
- Provide an interface to educational materials from Federal and State Agencies on our website.
- Provide our monthly newsletter to our members.
- Appeal wrongly issued agency permits to the courts.
- Monitor water quality all over the Florida portion of the Suwannee River Basin.
- Monitor the habitats in the river flood plains to assure that the Minimum Flows and Levels (MFL) Rule is being properly administered.
- Set up our educational booth at local festivals and events.
- Fund raise to support special issues and our ongoing programs.
Early on, the founding members decided to incorporate as a Florida non-profit corporation. They were shortly thereafter adopted, and eventually the paperwork was processed to become a 501(c)(3) corporation under Internal Revenue rules. The business affairs of SOS are conducted by a nine member Board of Directors which includes the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and five Directors. Elections are held each year with the officers serving one-year terms and the Directors two years.
The Board meets at least once each month. Harold E. Myer, Jr., now deceased, was elected as the first President of Save Our Suwannee. In subsequent years, Helen Beth Poore, Anthony Zenner, Svenn Lindskold, Steve Gamble, Howard Corbett, Lee Emerson, Loye Barnard and Annette Long have served as President. The business affairs of SOS are conducted by a nine member Board of Directors which includes the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and five Directors. Elections are held each year with the officers serving one-year terms and the Directors two years. The Board meets at least once each month.
Save Our Suwannee was founded in May 1993, by residents in the vicinity of a proposed land fill to be developed by an out-of-date corporation a little over a mile from the Suwannee River at the Lafayette/Dixie Counties border. Operations pulled apart and crushed old autos. The left-overs, certain to be contaminated with noxious chemicals, were called fluff!
To induce Lafayette County to approve the proposal the developer offered to accept, at no cost, the garbage and trash collected in the county — the end of their disposal problems. The neighbors quickly recognized the hazard and launched into a campaign of publicity, petition signing, and letter writing to state and Federal politicians. Their energy and thousands of letters and signatures induced the politicians to discourage the applicant and help find another location — outside Florida. On March 29, 1994, the company announced to Lafayette County that they were abandoning their plan.
After the Victory
Once the auto parts landfill issue was solved, the members decided to keep the organization alive as they perceived a variety of threats to the water quality of was formed which gathers data each quarter and reports its findings to the biologist at the Suwannee River Water Management District. Soon SOS got involved in appealing permits for dairies, questioning whether the effluent was polluting. Nitrate contamination from agriculture is the most pronounced water quality problem in the Suwannee basin and the estuary. Opposition to developing a pipeline to transfer Suwannee water to the Tampa Bay area continued over several years, and although the state legislature adopted a local Sources First policy in the 1999 session, the threat is still great. We follow the permitting activities of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection which issues dairy permits, mining permits, and air quality permits.
SOS partnered with Linda Young and the Southeast Clean Water Network in a suit against the State of Florida regarding pollution from large dairy farms. At the time of the suit, the State was not in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972. In order to comply, large animal feeding operations should have had to address groundwater pollution and be regulated by the State. SOS prevailed and now all large dairy operations in the State of Florida will be required to obtain a waste water permit for their runoff and farm operations.
Portland Cement Plant
From late 1998 to the present we, together with various environmental groups and neighboring citizens, expended a lot of time, energy, and resources on opposing a Portland cement plant in the three rivers area of Suwannee County (near the Ichetucknee Springs State Park); legal appeals were filed against the County, which approved the land use,and against Florida DEP, which approved the so-called air construction permit. Sadly, SOS did not prevail on the challenges and the plant is now doubling in size. We have also interacted with various State Agencies to oppose a lime rock mine adjacent to Manatee Springs State Park in Levy County, to change the location of a large dairy situated over the top of a spring conduit at Falmouth Springs in Suwannee County and to oppose a huge landfill proposed virtually on the shores of the Withlacoochee River in Brooks County, Georgia. Our members have attended public meetings all over the Suwannee Basin to monitor the proposed impact of various projects, enjoying the river.
Education- The Suwannee Basin is a major responsibility.
Save Our Suwannee now monitors activities all around the Suwannee River basin from the Okefenokee Swamp to Cedar Key. We are concerned with the way in which a dozen counties administer their Comprehensive Plans and Land Development Regulations. We follow closely the activities of the Suwannee River Water Management District which does the comprehensive monitoring of surface water and ground water in the basin. Through acquisition they protect many of the sensitive wetlands, flood plains, and springs in the area. The Suwannee Basin is blessed with adequate water while central and south Florida is squeezed a bit harder each year as the population grows and conservation measures are inadequate to the task. The Florida Council of 100 issued a report in January of 2006 detailing statewide water distribution issues. It is our hope that by educating the Columbia County School Board and Ichetucknee Springs the public and public officials, we can protect the waters of the State Park. The schools now bring students out to the springs to do Suwannee Basin from a repeat of the mistakes that were made in South Florida regarding water quantity and quality.
We always look for the time and opportunity to reach school children as we recognized future is in their hands and knowledge about the Suwannee brings appreciation. We contributed to the formation of the Ichetucknee Partnership with the Columbia County School Board and Ichetucknee Springs contributed to the formation of the Ichetucknee Partnership with science, math and writing projects.
We set up an information booth at many local fairs and festivals, give programs with outside speakers once a year and publish brochures describing aspects of the Suwannee area. In recent years, SOS has also launched a homeowner water awareness education effort to address the changing demographics of the Suwannee River Basin.
If you live in the Suwannee Basin, be aware of how much water you use at home and at work and try to conserve water when you can. The less water that is in your septic tank, the better it will work. Don’t fertilize near sinkholes and never dump garbage or refuse in them. They are direct connections to the water we all drink. Florida Yards .Use as little fertilizer as possible on your landscape and do plantings that are adapted to natural conditions so that water and fertilizer will not be needed. See our Water Conservation page.
For pointers you can go to :
Some organizations we work with