Save Our Suwannee

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Albert Einstein

Save Our Suwannee
Will this be the fate of all of our springs?
Please? I want my river back.
Annette Long
Chiefland, Florida

Presented to the SRWMD Governing Board on 12/13/11

I want my river back.  Our springs are drying up.

The Suwannee and Santa Fe are now at continuously low levels that were never supposed to happen. I’ve been attending water management district meetings for over a decade now. One of the things I learned here is that according to Florida Administrative Code 40B and Florida Statutes Title 28 Chapter 373, you are supposed to protect our public waters from “harm” and from significant harm” by managing consumptive water use permitting.

I’m begging you to actually manage our water resources. You are our only hope.

We haven’t had “normal” rain here in Florida for decades and we are in an established 13+ year drought.

Knowing that, you are still permitting withdrawals of our water resources with historical rainfall levels built in to the models.

It’s irresponsible to assume it’s going to rain like it used to. Isn’t over a decade of drought enough? How long will it be before the models consider drought the new normal? None of us knows when or if it will ever rain like it used to here in Florida, why do you continue to assume that it definitely will to permit water withdrawals?

I’ve provided you with photos from around the region I took last week. I’m not going to take up your time by going through them page by page, but I have to stress, these photos are from the real world, not from a theoretical model or planning exercise.

Our water supply is in trouble. Our rivers, springs and groundwater are so low that many of our springs have dried up. By any reasonable person’s definition a flowing spring becoming a stagnant sinkhole has been harmed

What you can do as our water managers is plan for drought and hope for rain, continuing to permit 20 year water permits with the “hope” that it will rain like it used to be a terrible plan.

We have had a few periods of high rainfall—the hurricanes of 2004 and even a flood of record at Pinetta a couple of years ago. Even so, many of our springs have quit flowing.

A couple of spots in the Upper Suwannee have become a trickle that can be hopped over in a single stride. Other parts of the Middle Suwannee and the Upper and Lower Santa Fe are desperately low. Even on the lower river, Fanning Springs had to cancel their boat parade because the boats couldn’t get to the dock. You haven’t set Minimum Flows and Levels for the Upper Suwannee, the Middle Suwannee or the Lower Santa Fe. Yet you continue to hand out consumptive use permits—even though all signs point to ecological disaster.

Please call, write or talk to the Governor and tell him what is happening in the real world. Everyone can’t have as much as they because there won’t be any left. There isn’t much left now.

The Ichetucknee, the Santa Fe and the Suwannee are OUTSTANDING FLORIDA WATERS. The springs and rivers are economic engines themselves, drawing visitors from all over the world. Just by their mere existence our natural waterways have created jobs that will disappear along with the water. Yet you are permitting them away in 20 year blocks every time you meet.

Today you are voting on some huge new CUP’s for polluting land uses that are going to affect the water quality and quantity of the few somewhat healthy springs left in our region. Please do not do this. Please deny or significantly modify those permits.

Just like real estate values and our banking woes, clean, cheap water is a “Bubble” that is bursting. What that means is that all of us in Florida are going to have to bear the cost of over withdrawals. This is as much about what is happening in our own Suwannee River District as much as it is about the Jacksonville and Gainesville groundwater draw downs.

You were appointed by the Governor to manage water. Please talk to him and tell him what is going on in the real world. Please look at what is happening all over your District. Please make sure we have water for our future.

Will this be the fate of the rest of our springs?
White Sulfur Springs was one of Florida’s first tourist attractions.
It hasn’t flowed since the 1970’s

Water is what makes Florida, Florida.
Even with the 2004 storms and a record flood at Pinetta a couple of years ago, our groundwater is running low.
Our natural springs are our “canary in the coal mine.”

They are the first to show the dangerously low levels in our local aquifers.
Our springs are economic engines in and of themselves.

People come to visit North Florida just to see them and enjoy them.
By over permitting groundwater withdrawals, you are killing an important sector of our rural economy.
Along with low ground water levels comes water quality issues related to “mining” the deeper aquifer for very old, Mineral-laden water. This is our drinking water.

Dead springs:

  • All of the Fenholloway River Springs
  •  White Sulfur Spring, Worthington Spring
  • Little Fanning Spring
  •  Falmouth Spring
  • Convict Spring
  •  Bonnet Spring
  •  Peacock Spring
  • Royal Spring
  • Little Blue Spring – Gilchrist County

In trouble:

  • Otter Spring
  • Fanning Spring
  • Hornsby Spring
  • Little River Spring
  • Branford Spring
  • Madison Blue Spring
  •  Hart Springs

All of our springs and rivers are near record lows. Please help us.

Article II
SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.—

(a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for the conservation and protection of natural resources.

(b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the purposes of this subsection, the terms “Everglades Protection Area” and “Everglades Agricultural Area” shall have the meanings as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.

History.—Am. by Initiative Petition filed with the Secretary of State March 26, 1996; adopted 1996; Am. proposed by Constitution Revision Commission, Revision No. 5, 1998, filed with the Secretary of State May 5, 1998; adopted 1999

Image: John Moran

Image: John Moran

Copies of this presentation delivered to:

  • Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board
  • Donald J. Quincey, Jr. – Chairman Lower Suwannee Basin Chiefland
  • Alphonas Alexander – Vice Chairman Upper Suwannee Basin Madison
  • Donald R. “Ray” Curtis III – Secretary/Treasurer Coastal Rivers Basins Perry
  • Kevin W. Brown Santa Fe and Wacassassa Basins Alachua
  • George M. Cole Aucilla River Basin Monticello
  • Heath M. Davis At Large Cedar Key
  • Carl E. Meece At Large O’Brien
  • Guy N. Williams At Large Lake City
  • Suwannee River Water Management Executive Director David Still
  • Suwannee River Water Management Staff for the record
  • Governor Rick Scott
  • Office of Governor Rick Scott, State of Florida, The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St. Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
  • FDEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 49, Tallahassee, Florida 32399
  • Via e-media format: Gainesville Sun, Suwannee Democrat, Lake City Reporter, High Springs Herald, Chiefland Citizen, The Madison Florida Voice, Dixie County Advocate, St. Pete Times. Tallahassee Democrat, Florida Independent, OrlandoSentinel, TV 20 WCJB Television Gainesville.

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