Protecting Our Springs
Dangers to Springs
Springs tell us a lot about hydrologic trends and human impacts on the quantity and quality of our groundwater and water supplies. They are a window into the aquifer, the source of most of the region's drinking water. Low spring flow may indicate drought conditions, or it may signal excessive groundwater withdrawals.
Different kinds of land uses can introduce potentially harmful soluble materials such as pesticides and nitrates. Once in the aquifer, these materials can flow with the groundwater over long distances, finding their way into drinking water, springs, rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico. Proper management of land use activities is essential to avoiding water contamination.
One of the major water quality issues affecting springs, not only in the Suwannee region but statewide, is increasing levels of nutrients, particularly nitrate. Excessive levels of nitrate can promote the growth of less desirable plants in springs, such as filamentous algae.
Water use permitting authorizes specific types of water users to pump specific volumes of water without causing harm to surrounding users and natural resources. This process protects the aquifer and related water bodies from being overdrawn. Environmental resource permitting requires developments to manage stormwater runoff prior to discharge off-site. This helps protect the quality of water in springs, lakes, and other water bodies.
Water Monitoring Networks
In order to assess the quality and quantity of water, the District and cooperating agencies monitor:
- River discharge
- River, lake, and groundwater levels
- Surface and groundwater quality conditions
- Water use
The information is used in support of springs protection.
Minimum Flows & Levels (MFLs)
This program sets minimum flows for springs to ensure water availability for the present and future, and to prevent harm to the area's natural resources.
The District's year-round water conservation rule applies to residential landscaping, public or commercial recreation areas, and public and commercial businesses that aren't regulated by a District-issued permit. Measures taken through the Water Supply Planning process help reduce groundwater demands.
Wastewater Reuse Projects
Reclaimed water, or "reuse," is an important alternative water supply source the District has identified to meet water demands over the next 20 years. Wastewater reuse projects for irrigation, residential subdivisions, and other large users are funded throughout the District to improve groundwater quality and offset groundwater pumpage.
The District works with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to learn more about springs through research and monitoring projects such as:
- Flow monitoring
- Groundwater level monitoring
- Springshed delineation
- Water quality sampling
Both the Suwannee River Partnership and The Ichetucknee Partnership (TIP) coordinate with landowners and local communities to reduce nutrient loading into the local rivers and springs.
Additional Resources & Information
- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection website has a comprehensive section with information on all of Florida's springs. They also maintain a separate website where you can take an online web cast tour of our beautiful springs!
- Florida Geological Survey's Bulletin 66 provides comprehensive information on our valuable spring resources.
- You can find out more about what is being done to protect our springs from the Florida Springs Task Force and reading their report.
- You can help improve water quality and reduce water use by following Florida-Friendly Landscaping tips.