Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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.

The Springs Eternal Project

In 2012, nature photographer John Moran joined forces with artist and art historian Lesley Gamble and designer Rick Kilby to create the Springs Eternal Project. Their collaboration fills museum walls, wraps city buses and continues educational outreach in hopes of inspiring Floridians to value, conserve and restore our precious waters. Learn more at SpringsEternalProject.org and look for Springs Eternal Project on Facebook.

Perspective: Hope for springs eternal (w/video) 03/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 5:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Man convicted of second-degree murder in killing of Baby Doe, his girlfriend's daughter

    Nation

    BOSTON — A man was convicted Monday of murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl who became known as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on the shore of a Boston Harbor island.

    Michael McCarthy’s friend Michael Sprinsky, far left, gets a hug from sister Laura Sprinsky after McCarthy is found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Bella Bond, who became known as Baby Doe.
  2. Rays make Hechavarria trade official

    Blogs

    Here is the release from the team ...

     

  3. Jones: Will Tampa Bay hit a Hall of Fame dry spell now?

    Lightning Strikes

    Marty St. Louis may lack the Hall of Fame stats, but two scoring titles, an MVP award and clutch goals should count for a lot. (Dirk Shadd, Times)
  4. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  5. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up to the location disclosed to the city.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]