Regarding Nitrate Contaminants in Wells

Story contributed by Our Santa Fe River, Inc., OSFR

Yesterday, Aug. 7 2015, in Alachua, Dr. Del Bottcher of Soil and Water Engineering Technology, Inc. sponsored a luncheon and gave a presentation on nitrates in dairies, principally the Watson Dairy. There were 19 people in attendance, including ex-DEP head Herschel Vinyard, and six environmentalists, among whom were several OSFR members. Also in the group were farm and dairy managers and waste management engineers.

Among the topics of discussion were the planned denitrification bioreactor which should be operational by September and the high nitrate readings in some wells.

At this meeting Dr. Robert Knight of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute pointed out his concerns for contamination in certain wells near the Santa Fe River in Alachua and Gilchrist Counties.

OSFR sees as its mission that of dissemination of information relating to the land surrounding the Santa Fe River, and as such, we are reproducing an email sent from the Florida Springs Institute to various health monitoring agencies in Florida, including the DEP, and Health Dept., as well as local county agencies.

Also, in light of the information contained in the FDEP report seen at this link, we also recommend to our readers in Alachua and Gilchrist Counties that they have their wells tested for harmful contaminants.Scroll

Map created by FDEP employee Brian Katz.


Please alert the responsible persons in each of your agencies about a groundwater nitrate drinking water emergency in Gilchrist and Alachua Counties. FDEP has been sampling the Santa Fe Springs Restoration Focus Area for the past two years. As recently reported by Dr. Brian Katz with FDEP, nitrate nitrogen levels are greatly elevated throughout this area compared to historic, pre-development concentrations. In four of the state’s 20 monitoring wells, nitrate concentrations exceed the FDEP safe drinking water standard of 10 mg/L. Nitrate levels in 75% of the wells sampled exceed the springs nitrate standard of 0.35 mg/L.

Two of the monitoring wells are of particular concern to rural residents living downgradient and drawing their drinking water from Floridan aquifer wells. Well #12 in eastern Gilchrist County has nitrate concentrations between 32 and 48 mg/L. Well #7 in western Alachua County has nitrate concentrations measured between 15 and 27 mg/L. Both of these monitoring wells are downgradient from active dairies and upgradient of rural housing developments. These data are more than adequate to declare an immediate water advisory, to require testing of private self-supply wells for nitrate contamination, and to consider enforcement action against the neighboring dairies.

The Florida Springs Institute is concerned about the health effects of elevated nitrate in the aquifer. These extremely high concentrations are only partially diluted by the time they reach the Santa Fe River springs. For example, Gilchrist Blue springs has an average nitrate nitrogen concentration above 2 mg/L which is currently rising. This value is about 4,000% higher than the baseline nitrate concentration in this spring. As a springs scientist I am concerned about the declining ecological health of the Santa Fe River springs. As a private individual with a graduate degree in public health I am also concerned for the residents drinking and bathing in this polluted groundwater.

Please provide a written reply to this email indicating the corrective actions your agency intends to take.


Robert L. Knight, Ph.D.

Director Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute”
5302 NW 156 Avenue
Gainesville, Florida 32653
386-462-1003 office

SRWMD Gets $5.4 million For Springs Protection Funding

Suwannee River Water Management District Gets $5.4 million For Springs Protection Funding

from the University of Florida

By Paige Kauffman on September 5th, 2013
LIVE OAK– The Suwannee River Water Management District received $5.4 million for two springs protection and restoration projects.

Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection approved the District’s funding request on Wednesday for the improvement projects.

The SRWMD is teaming with Dixie County to provide a local funding match totaling $352,000 as the DEP plans to contribute $1.5 million. The District will also partner with the City of Lake City and Columbia County for a local match totaling $700,000 with a DEP contribution of $3.9 million.

The Middle Suwannee River Restoration and Aquifer Recharge project plans to rehydrate about 1,500 acres of ponds and 4,000 acres of wetlands to mimic natural hydrologic conditions in Mallory Swamp, and will enhance flow for springs along the Middle Suwannee River Basin.

The benefits of restoring natural conditions will increase the groundwater supply, affecting various springs along the Middle Suwannee River including Troy, July, Little River and Pot Hole Springs.

The Ichetucknee Springshed Water Quality Improvement Project intends to convert Lake City’s wastewater sprayfield into wetlands, providing additional treatment to reduce nitrogen loading and improve water quality in the area. It is projected to reduce Lake City’s wastewater nutrient loadings to the river by an estimated 85 percent.

Ann Shortelle, executive director of SRWMD, wrote in a press release, “This funding is a significant investment that will have enormous benefits to the Ichetucknee River and Springs, and numerous springs along the Middle Suwannee River.”