Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Perspective

Perspective: Hope for springs eternal (w/video)

I have photographed Florida's gorgeous springs for decades, and that means — sadly — that I have documented their decline.

Nobody set out to ruin them, and it took years for this disaster to unfold. But now we need to pull together to save them. Our unique and irreplaceable springs simply can't wait.

There is hope. One bright spot is a comprehensive springs protection bill, CS/SB 1576, being pushed by a bipartisan coalition in the Florida Senate. The bill would provide more than $300 million a year for projects to protect and restore Florida's springs, including septic tank hookups, wastewater improvements and projects to restore spring flow.

It would also name 38 "Outstanding Florida Springs" and would set out to restore the quality and flow of their water. So far, the Department of Environmental Protection has determined that 22 of them don't meet state water quality standards, and another nine are still being studied. In other words, DEP says that only seven are okay. That's why we need action now.

The bill would set a deadline for water management districts to establish minimum flows and water levels. It would also require local governments near Outstanding Florida Springs to adopt fertilizer ordinances.

Like the flow of a spring, we should follow the money. The bill would direct DEP to prioritize spending on projects that would have the most benefit, including eliminating runoff from lawn fertilizer, stormwater ponds and agricultural operations.

Sponsored by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, with the support of Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs; Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee; Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby; and Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, the bill does more to protect springs than any legislation in recent memory.

But a companion House bill is stalled in committee, and Speaker Will Weatherford says wait until next year. Our springs don't have the luxury of time. Many are dead or dying now.

Certainly, the problems that plague our springs weren't all caused by developers and utilities and agribusiness and their allies in Tallahassee, and they didn't just happen on Gov. Rick Scott's watch.

With every gallon of water we use — water that otherwise would be available for our springs and the vital ecosystems they support — and with every bag of harmful fertilizer that we buy, we the people are casting a vote for the kind of Florida we want to live in.

What's needed now is a clear vision for Florida based on a water ethic with real conservation and civic water education at its core. We must stop overpumping the aquifer. And we must stop pollution at its source. We need to pass meaningful legislation that addresses these issues now.

This bill, which goes before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday, won't fix all that ails our springs, but it's a crucial start. Even so, its passage is far from assured and lobbyists are lined up to oppose it.

The future of our springs depends on public advocacy. If you believe our springs are worth saving, then pick up the phone and tell your legislators. And somewhere a spring will whisper, "Thank you."

Nature photographer John Moran is co-director of the Springs Eternal Project.

     
 
Comments
PolitiFact: How trustworthy are the polls, more than a year after the 2016 election?

PolitiFact: How trustworthy are the polls, more than a year after the 2016 election?

Over the past year, political professionals have been picking over the pre-election polling data to figure out whether the polls failed to predict Donald Trumpís upset victory over Hillary Clinton.In many peopleís minds, the polls were flat wrong in ...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/11/18

Five interesting facts

2 hoursis how long the power was out last week for the CES, the consumer electronics show, in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The biggest electronics show of the year couldnít do much without a key ingredient: electricity. The ca...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Perspective: Two dying memoirists wrote best-sellers about their final days. Then their spouses fell in love.

Perspective: Two dying memoirists wrote best-sellers about their final days. Then their spouses fell in love.

By Nora KrugSAN MATEO, Calif. ó The literary pairing was inevitable.When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithiís memoir of his final years as he faced lung cancer at age 37, was published posthumously, in 2016, to critical acclaim and commercial success...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Perspective: Why do we get so itchy when we canít use our smartphones?

Americans spend a lot of time on their smartphones. But what can we learn about the connected state of mind by observing what happens when we canít use our devices?While much has been written about the effects of using our phones, from worries about ...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/11/18
Perspective: Oprah, donít do it

Perspective: Oprah, donít do it

PARIS ó I miss a lot of must-see TV on this side of the Atlantic. But by the time Iíd dropped off my daughter at school Monday morning, it was impossible not to notice how many people in my social media feeds felt something politically significant ha...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/11/18
Perspective: The systematic crushing of a #MeToo pioneer

Perspective: The systematic crushing of a #MeToo pioneer

Eight decades ago, Patricia Douglas made nationwide headlines, upstaging even the wedding of the former king of England and the American double-divorcťe Wallis Simpson. Then, just as suddenly, she vanished, hounded into exile by Hollywoodís most omni...
Published: 01/05/18
Updated: 01/11/18
Florida Insiders assess the #MeToo, post-Jack Latvala era in Tallahassee

Florida Insiders assess the #MeToo, post-Jack Latvala era in Tallahassee

Infidelity. Snooping private investigators. Big money. Conflicting political ambitions. Sexual harassment. The #MeToo movement. Donald Trump. Paranoia. And the interests of 20 million Floridians.With these issues looming over Floridaís 2018 legislati...
Published: 01/05/18

Romano: Terms limits are for voters who donít trust themselves

Happy 25th anniversary, Florida.Now, letís talk about a divorce.Seriously, this arrangement is no longer working. To be perfectly honest, itís never worked at all.Iím talking about Amendment 9, which Florida passed with great exuberance 25 years ago....
Published: 12/27/17
Updated: 01/04/18
A Little Perspective: Interesting news and notes from around the world

A Little Perspective: Interesting news and notes from around the world

Forget baby showers. Thereís a proposal to give every newborn in the United States a "Baby Bond" account with somewhere between $500 to $50,000 in cash. Neither the kids nor their parents would be able to touch the money until the child turned 18. Th...
Published: 12/26/17
Updated: 01/12/18
One more time to revive Florida Forever before itís Florida Never

One more time to revive Florida Forever before itís Florida Never

n years past, the Florida Legislature has grappled with such major environmental issues as saving the Everglades, halting damaging releases from Lake Okeechobee and managing the stateís runaway growth.This year, though, you could say that the big env...
Published: 12/22/17
Updated: 01/04/18