Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

Volusia Water Alliance

Fall Symposium

So 2/3ds of the water bodies in Florida do not meet standards due to algae, other pollution, turbidity, flow levels, etc.  Most of the State’s water bodies are considered “water resource cautionary.” There were 36 springs in South Florida 20 years ago.  Today there are none.  

The focus on springs from John Moran, the Florida Springs Institute, and many other groups such as Audubon and many newspaper writers and editorialists, indicates that there is lots to be done to restore our waters, and that the Water Management Districts (WMDs) must do more.  

And there is another problem.  Dr Robert Sitler, Professor of World Languages and Cultures at Stetson University, said that his students were by and large apathetic to the plight of the springs.  In fact, most had never been to one.  University students in Central Florida? Really?  

So he built a website, to highlight diverse aquatic sites that are accessible on public lands within a 30-mile radius of the Holler Fountain at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. It includes “enormous freshwater springs, innumerable lakes, both fresh & saltwater marshlands, the massive basin of the St. Johns River, the species-diverse estuary on our continent, and broad expanses of undeveloped Atlantic Ocean beach, all atop the prodigious Floridan Aquifer.”  Hopefully, they will appreciate the springs more now.

Most of the speakers at the Fall Symposium talked about how much progress has been made and how they are stewarding Florida’s water resources.  And they may be. But Lisa Rinaman, St Johns Riverkeeper, took exception with the withdrawals of surface water from the river, as well as the dredging of the mouth of the river to make the Jaxport more competitive with Savannah for accommodating the larger cargo ships.  The tidal effect on the river already extends south of Palatka, and the dredging will disturb all the muck at the bottom, releasing all the toxic pollutants including heavy metals, into the river.  The salinity will increase locally and for a greater distance upstream, changing the habitat for the creatures that call it home.

So the question of whether or not the WMDs are doing enough to protect our water sources won’t be known for some time.  They may be doing the best they can under the political climate from the Governor and the State House.  That means we need to come to their help, lobbying our elected officials and the Governor to fully fund Amendment 1 money for conservation and preservation of our water sources, and press the government to stop requiring the WMDs to permit projects that will seriously harm our ability to have high quality and quantity of water as our population continues to explode.