SAVING THE SUWANNEE
Newsletter of Save Our Suwannee, Inc.
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Every time I sit down to write this newsletter I wonder how much more bad news can our members stand to read? A combination of the continuing drought and the current political climate in Florida has left the water levels in the Suwannee and her tributaries at historical low levels. We have had worse droughts, but there are more wells in production than ever and new wells in line to be permitted every day. Those of you who live on the shores and frequent the springs have seen with your own eyes that there we are having a severe water shortage. According to local well drillers, shallow wells are going dry all over the countryside.
What are we going to do? Never in record keeping history has our water picture been so grim and never have our water managers been so unwilling to do their jobs. It would be easy to give up, but we can’t. Water is essential to our quality of life and to the health
of our local economy here in the Suwannee Valley. We need to convince our decision makers that “conservation” is not a dirty word. If we can judge them by their inaction, our Governor, Legislature and Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board
has no interest whatsoever in using the tools that are available to them to try to stop the deterioration of our springs and lakes. They need to hear from us.
In this newsletter, I have included comments from former Governor/US Senator Bob Graham and State Senator Lee Constantine. They have formed the Florida Conservation Coalition and are lobbying for Florida’s natural waters. You can check them out at:floridaconservationcoalition.org
Below is a map showing the current groundwater conditions in the Suwannee Basin as of April 1st. The “blue” dots represent historical low groundwater levels in monitoring wells.
WATER: WHAT YOU CAN DO
On April 3rd 2012 North Central Florida conservation, nonprofit, community and religious leaders; scientists and other professors from the University of Florida and Santa Fe College; journalists, artists and photographers; retirees and other concerned citizens gathered at UF’s Pugh Hall to harness the energy of a lecture by former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat, and former Florida Senator Lee Constantine, a Republican, about the statewide Florida Conservation Coalition.
The urgent concern of our community is water. Many of the springs that define our region are drying up from a combination of drought and groundwater over-pumping. Their colors are turning from brilliant blue to algal brown due to fertilizer and other pollution. In groups and as individuals, we’ve worked on water for decades, from powerful art exhibits to thought-provoking panel discussions. It has not been enough. Water, now, needs citizens. Among the many good ideas that followed Graham’s lecture, here are some of most relevant for residents who want to help save North Central Florida’s rivers, springs and groundwater:
USE A LOT LESS WATER AND EXPECT THE SAME OF FARMS AND INDUSTRY: Our water crisis requires a new way of living with water across all sectors – agriculture, business and residents. The water-management districts that permit large water users
have not helped us make this transition, even though many other parts of our state and country have shown it is absolutely possible.
JOIN/SUPPORT THE NONPROFITS THAT PROTECT LOCAL WATERS: Graham’s new Florida Conservation Coalition proved effective at beating back bad water and land bills in the 2012 session. Locally, Florida’s Eden has had a strong impact on increasing citizen awareness of water issues; Save Our Suwannee on rural outreach; Putnam County Environmental Council and other groups on monitoring the water-management districts. Find those whose work you feel strongly about and volunteer or donate.
LEGISLATORS NEED TO HEAR FROM MORE CITIZENS, MORE OF THE YEAR: Lawmakers tend to hear from the same people every session, and those advocating for water have scant access compared with moneyed interests. Former Sen. Constantine
advised that average citizens must show lawmakers there are more Floridians who care about Florida’s water and land than about the next strip mall. Tell them so all year. Then, at election time, seek out candidates with a vision for healthy, abundant waters for our
children and grandchildren. The issue is not Democrat vs. Republican or more government vs. less government. It is good government.
HELP MAKE WATER MAINSTREAM: Help bring water stewardship and knowledge into the mainstream as our culture did with littering a generation ago. Two of the best paths are schools and churches, where congregations may consider water stewardship as part of a biblical call/moral issue. Church projects could include a water-themed Vacation Bible School like that planned this summer at Fort King Presbyterian Church in Marion County; a book club; or guest speakers. School projects are many, including curriculum offered by Stacie Greco, water-conservation coordinator at the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. Call her at 352-264-6829 or email email@example.com.
CAN THE COURTS HELP? Southern Legal Counsel is a public-interest law firm that’s worked for civil rights, public school children, and other causes since 1977. The firm is challenging a groundwater permit before the St. Johns River Water Management
District that advocates fear will harm Silver Springs. Adena Springs Ranch would pump 13.3 million gallons a day from the alreadystressed aquifer for a cattle ranch. That’s more than the daily withdrawal for the city of Ocala. To contribute to the case, you can send
a check to Southern Legal Counsel, 1229 NW 12th Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601-4113; specify Adena Springs.
FLORIDA’S WATER, NOW AND FOREVER: Next year, Floridians commemorate the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon’s landing on the peninsula he christened La Florida. Juan Ponce may never have found the Fountain of Youth. But we have it – in our
unsurpassed collection of freshwater springs. We can celebrate their significance and call attention to their vulnerability in 500th commemorations statewide.
THE WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT CHANNEL
Long time SOS member and current President Annette Long is starting up a new page on Facebook. She is calling it “The Water Management District Channel.” Since Long attends most Suwannee River Water Management District Meetings anyway, she decided
to start filming them, uploading the videos to Youtube and posting them on Facebook. She got the idea from a local newspaper reporter who said they would like to go to those meetings but were not able to because the time and date conflicted with other meetings they had to cover. Long posted the following video of her own complaints and suggestions to the Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board on Youtube:
HUGE HUGE VICTORY FOR FLORIDA’S WATERS!!!!
My dear friends of Florida’s waters:
I am so pleased to let you know that we have won a major victory in our fight for Florida’s waters. Recently I wrote you and told about our day in federal court where our amazing attorney David Ludder gave oral arguments for our Motion for Summary Judgement in our Impaired Waters Rule case. He was brilliant and so persuasive. I am not only proud of him, but so thankful that we have him to help us fight for better protection for the springs, lakes, streams, estuaries and coastal waters that we love so dearly.
On Friday, David received notice from the Federal District Court that we won. We had seven counts in our complaint and we won Counts I – V and lost on Counts VI and VII. The two counts that we lost on were unimportant. Count VI had no impact at all and Count VII is in regards to nutrients, which was a mute point anyway. I have attached Judge Rodgers’ order in case you would like to read it.
This is our fourth lawsuit over Florida’s Impaired Waters Rule (IWR) in the past 10 years. We have won 4/4 cases now and still the Florida DEP continues to help polluters find ways around the Clean Water Act. As I mentioned in my last weekly update, DEP has released a new list of Impaired Waters and waters that have been Delisted, which we are now reviewing. The state continues to use every way possible to take polluted waters off of the impaired waters list – 303(d) and to avoid setting pollution limits. In cases where they are required to adopt TMDLs (pollution limits) they consistently underestimate how much reduction there should be and always make participation in these reductions a voluntary thing. So, in short, this victory is not the end of our struggle. It is however a very, very significant step forward. I can’t tell you how excited and happy I am – VERY!!!
We are working hard right now with the Conservancy of SW Florida to write comments on DEP’s current lists. We have gotten an extension of time to file for a hearing. This is a daunting task and without the Conservancy’s commitment and technical support and
expertise, it would not be possible. So, once again, they deserve a huge thank you from all of us for their work on this important issue.
I will follow up soon with our comment letter for you to read and sign on to if your group or as businesses and/or individuals you want to sign on. Ultimately we will have to file suit against EPA if they approve the outrageous lists that DEP continues to submit. I’m
hoping that EPA will adhere to the higher court’s command that waters be reviewed using the “effects” test. That means, if the water was polluted before the IWR was applied and nothing happened to clean it up, then the state can’t change the definition of what a
polluted water is with the IWR and declare a polluted water to be clean. That is essentially what is happening.
If you would like to help us win this fight, now would be a great time to send your financial support. As you might imagine, these legal battles are expensive and if we don’t keep fighting for Clean Water Act protections for Florida’s waters, this effort will be dropped and the polluters will win. That is what they are hoping for. That we will get weary and give up. With your help we will keep going until we have finally won the protections that our waters deserve.
IF EVERY PERSON WHO RECEIVES THIS WONDERFUL NEWS WOULD SEND US $10 – JUST $10 – WE COULD FUND
THIS WORK FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR!!!
We need your help now more than ever so please help us take this great victory to the last stretch. Any contribution, small or large will make a difference and you will forever know that when Florida’s waters were hanging in the balance, you put your money on the side
of protection. Everyone who has already sent their membership this year, thank you so much. If you can chip in a little more, it will be so very appreciated. Please send this email far and wide and help us share the good news.
For all of Florida’s waters and with a happy heart,
Linda Young firstname.lastname@example.org
Clean Water network of Florida www.cleanwaternetwork-fl.org
Post Office Box 5124
Navarre, FL 32566
Save Our Suwannee has supported Linda Young and the Clean Water Network of Florida since our organization was formed. SOS was involved with some of the earliest challenges to the Clean Water Act nutrient rules—or lack of them since the 1990’s.
Watch out for jumping sturgeon if you are boating on the river. They are back for the summer. You never hear about them having a collision with a canoe or kayak so the recipe for sturgeon safety seems to be to reduce your speed. If you are interested in a good
sturgeon viewing opportunity, you can often see them at the Rock Bluff boat ramp (from the bluff looking down), at Fanning Springs State Park and at the river dock at Manatee Springs State Park. They seem to jump more in late afternoon and evening.