The current plight of the Ichetucknee River and Springs includes not only problems of water quality and water quantity but also issues that involve law, politics, public policy, ethics, education and the willingness of citizens to advocate for the restoration, preservation and protection of our waters.
These issues are complex, multi-faceted, and complicated by the interactions of different federal, state and local agencies, governmental bodies and stakeholders with different missions, objectives and goals. The connections between these various groups can change over time and often appear at first glance to form an almost impossible-to-navigate maze or labyrinth.
We believe that solutions are possible, however. We believe that the path to successful solutions requires three elements: (1) accurate water models and solid, unbiased analyses of scientific findings as well as ongoing monitoring of conditions in the river system, (2) a familiarity with the moral and ethical principles that can guide environmental decision making, and (3) the willingness to partner with other people, agencies and organizations to navigate a complicated maze of relationships in order to find creative and substantive solutions.
At their core, the problems we must solve to save the Ichetucknee are not scientific problems—they are people problems. Why? Because science is a system that enables us to investigate how the world works; it was never designed as a moral or ethical system to tell us what we should do in any given situation.
When we consider the condition of the Ichetucknee River System from a moral or ethical standpoint, we may begin to get a clearer view of the path forward. For example, consider the following questions:
- Should our laws guarantee that natural systems such as the Ichetucknee River have the right to exist, or should such systems be considered commodities to be used up?
- What, if anything, is our moral duty with regard to preserving natural systems such as the Floridan Aquifer—the source of the river system and our drinking water—for future generations?
- Might Florida be better served if our elected officials and environmental advocates had a good understanding of the Precautionary Principle?
- What do we want our water legacy to be?
To find out more about the problems facing the Ichetucknee and the potential solutions to those problems, see: