By Jim Gross
Editor’s Note: Jim Gross, the geologist who spoke at one of our Water Voices programs in 2016, wrote the following in an email thread I received; he has generously given us permission to print it here. When people ask, “What is causing the problems with our springs?” and “What can we do?,” the following paragraphs provide excellent answers and guidance.
What I’ve heard recently is that restoration likely involves both increased flows and decreased nutrient loading, which is not really surprising when you think about it. Springs are like organisms—they need adequate amounts of freshwater and that freshwater must be free of toxic substances.
I believe we can restore our springs to much of their former glory. We humans are perhaps the smartest species ever to inhabit Earth, but smart and wise are different aspects of our nature.
Just off the … Read More »
Earlier this year, the Alliance filed a legal challenge to the new North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan on behalf of the Ichetucknee River System. We took this action because we believed the plan was required to include an effective restoration strategy for the river and springs, which it failed to do. Unfortunately, both the St. Johns River and Suwannee River water management districts—the agencies that we challenged—questioned our legal standing and dismissed our challenge.
Our attorney, John Thomas, has now filed an appeal of that dismissal with the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. We want a court to decide if the agencies being challenged should have the ability to dismiss a challenge brought against them because the agency determines that the petitioner lacks standing. If the court finds in our favor, this case could set a precedent that might help other groups defend the health … Read More »
by John Moran
Editor’s Note: Gainesville photographer, writer, springs advocate and Lifetime Ichetucknee Alliance member John Moran visits the Ichetucknee every year on his birthday. This year (2017), he graciously agreed to share this series of his birthday trip photos. Thanks, John!
This picture report begins with a few underwater pictures shot in the short stretch between the headspring at the Ichetucknee and the canoe launch. This is the small “window” where you can remember a time when the entire river looked so healthy. The comparison to the Devil’s Eye Spring underwater photo is striking. I made the “healthy” pictures in the restricted area with permission from the park manager. This is my 31st consecutive May 17th birthday outing on the Ichetucknee and, oh the changes I’ve seen.
An inevitable Tragedy of the Commons occurs when a necessary resource becomes available free of cost to a community. Ladies & Gentlemen, this tragedy is unfolding as I speak – right beneath our feet!
Most in this room pay a delivery fee to an urban utility for their water. But the gross majority of water from our aquifer is pumped without cost by agriculture, industry and rural homeowners. Theoretically, withdrawals are regulated by consumptive use permits and minimum flow levels, which in reality are political footballs. Anyone with sufficient resources and power can subvert these controls. Our newspapers are full of examples.
We necessarily struggle to improve the efficiency of water use, but such measures are overwhelmed by increased demands. We are increasingly pumping brackish water in numerous coastal areas, a situation that is practically irreversible. Desalinization is too costly to support … Read More »
by Bob Palmer, Ichetucknee Alliance Advisory Board Member
Think back to sixth grade. Remember those pesky math tests where your teacher wouldn’t give you any credit if the question was “what’s 144 divided by 6?” and you just wrote down “24”. You had to “show your work”. If you didn’t, your teacher would suspect, perhaps with some justification, that you’d snuck a peek and copied your answer from the smart girl sitting next to you.
Well, the State of Florida – supposedly a great place for Open Government – has made NOT showing its work into a new art form. And unless citizens get sufficiently outraged, our “public servants” are going to get away with it.
Consider three recent examples from the world of environmental decision-making where State regulators have gone out of their way not to show their work.
First, there’s Sleepy Creek, … Read More »
by Eric Flagg
I was in my undergraduate program for Environmental Science at UF (1996-1998) when I first met Jim Stevenson. He was speaking to one of my classes and was at the time, I believe, director of the Florida Springs Task Force.
He made a big impression on me as someone I’d like to emulate with my career. Since then the ethos of that grand park system that he was a part of as chief naturalist has changed dramatically. Today, there is not nearly as much room to accomplish what he and other park employees were able to since the 1970s-1980s.
Years went by. I worked as an environmental consultant for about 10 years, then went back to graduate school and earned my master’s in documentary filmmaking.
Fast forward to summer 2013 when my production company partners, Isaac Brown and Ana Habib, held … Read More »
The very knowledgeable writer, river guide, owner of Adventure Outpost in High Springs, and Ichetucknee Alliance supporter Lars Andersen wrote a lovely blog about the Ichetucknee for Riverguide’s Journal and he has graciously given the Alliance permission to share the blog, which you may read here.
January 12, 2016
It has been some time since the Ichetucknee Alliance requested a moratorium on large water use permits, so I am here today to re-state that call.
Here is what we want to see before any more permits are issued: Development of a water balance or water budget that must compare “income” to the district (the amount of water received from rainfall) to the district’s “expenses” (the amount of water leaving via runoff, evapotranspiration, and CUMULATIVE permitted withdrawals).
Our water is a shared resource that needs to be managed as a public trust with an emphasis on conservation. As Cynthia Barnett has written, we need to make sure that the way we are using water today does not jeopardize fresh, clean water for our children, businesses, and ecosystems tomorrow. Without a water budget, none of us has any assurances that our … Read More »
by Robert E. Ulanowicz, Ph.D.
Most are aware of Florida’s growing water crisis, but few seem eager to consider the elephant in the parlor. Water expert Thomas Swihart reports that agricultural irrigation accounts for more than 60 percent of all freshwater consumed in Florida ([i]), although the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported in 2011 that the agricultural sector comprised approximately 1 percent of the state’s total domestic product ([ii]). Despite this surprising disparity, agriculture’s contributions to Florida’s water problems are only infrequently discussed, because “Everyone has to eat!”
Of course, food is necessary for survival, but it is also true that, “Everyone needs to drink!” In fact, the physiological need for water is far stronger than for food. The rule of thumb is that humans can survive three weeks without food, but only three days without water. We rightly focus on widespread starvation in … Read More »
The marvelous Gainesville poet, Lola Haskins, shared two poems about the Ichetucknee with the Alliance, along with an announcement about her new book, “how small, confronting morning,” just out from Jacar Press. Lola is reading from the book at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, at the Alachua Headquarters Library in downtown Gainesville.
Click here to read the poems in their preferred format and see the book announcement here. Click on the image below for a larger view.