Milestones & Accomplishments

Springs of Florida

Ichetucknee Underwater
Photograph by Wes Skiles

Major Accomplishments

2013

Articles of Incorporation filed and officers elected.

Springs Watch monitoring training attended by IA directors and volunteers.

IA website launched and Facebook group discussion page created.

First Springs Watch river monitoring completed on the Lower Ichetucknee River; this program is ongoing.

IA endorsed the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign.

IA worked behind the scenes and with a press release to convince Sabal Trail pipeline partners to move the pipeline’s route away from the Ichetucknee.

IA Advisory Board member Jim Stevenson led a tour of the Ichetucknee Basin (springshed) for IA directors.

2014

IA launched a new manatee sighting program led by volunteer Lars Andersen.

IA participated with Current Problems in a cleanup at Cannon Sink in Lake City.

IA joined the Florida Wildlife Federation in a challenge to the new Minimum Flows & Levels for the Ichetucknee River. The rule was invalidated because of vague language but that problem was later corrected and the rule was upheld in 2015.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service recognized IA as an educational tax-exempt public charity.

Two board members gave the IA’s first public presentation. The audience was a group of people on a Paddle Florida tour at Ichetucknee Springs State Park.

IA supported a water conservation ordinance being considered in Columbia County.

2015

IA directors met with representatives of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Suwannee River Water Management District to express concern and open a dialogue about ongoing degradation of the Ichetucknee River System. Our suggestions included establishment of an Ichetucknee Springs and River Restoration Focus and Demonstration Area.

IA joined the newly formed Florida Springs Council.

The first Water Voices programs were held, featuring Pegeen Hanrahan and Aliki Moncrief discussing the Florida Water and Land Legacy/Amendment 1 initiative, Tom Swihart discussing Florida’s Water Policy Toolbox, and a panel that included Cynthia Barnett speaking about Ethics, Faith & Water.

IA directors asked the Columbia County Commission to re-visit the county’s zoning and land use regulations to provide more protection from pollution.

2016

IA asked the Suwannee River Water Management District’s Board of Directors to implement a moratorium on large water use permits.

IA Board and Advisory Board members met with the Executive Director and staff of the Suwannee River Water Management District to press for more protections for the river system, including a Restoration Focus Area.

Water Voices programs continued with Jim Gross speaking about the Floridan Aquifer at Florida Gateway College in Lake City and two attorneys speaking about Florida water laws in High Springs.

IA participated in a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, Water/Ways, in High Springs.

IA directors and advisory board members participated in the Florida Springs Restoration Summit organized by the Florida Springs Council and held in Ocala. IA also offered three scholarships for people to attend this event.

IA publicized the new overall “C-minus” grade given to the Lower Ichetucknee River by the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute’s new baseline assessment of the river’s condition.

2017

Members of IA’s board and advisory board participated in a meeting called by the Suwannee River Water Management District to explore the possibility of having an environmental advocacy presence on a reconstituted Suwannee River Partnership group.

IA filed a challenge and appealed dismissal of that challenge to the draft North Central Florida Water Supply Plan.

Members of IA’s board and advisory board attended public meetings and submitted comments about the draft Ichetucknee Springs State Park unit management plan.

IA Advisory Board member Jim Stevenson led a tour of the Ichetucknee Basin (springshed) for IA directors.

Milestones

February 9, 2013:  An exploratory meeting was held with 25 citizens, who heard presentations about the condition of the Ichetucknee by Bob Knight & Jim Stevenson; Jacqui Sulek facilitated.

March 14, 2013:  Articles of Incorporation for Ichetucknee Alliance, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, were filed with the State of Florida. Incorporators:  John Jopling, Jacqui Sulek, Lucinda Merritt, Terri Skiles, Charles Maxwell.

March 30, 2013:  The first slate of directors and officers was elected unanimously:  John Jopling, president; Jacqui Sulek, vice president; Terri Skiles, treasurer; Megan Olson, secretary; Charles Maxwell, historian; Bob Knight; and Cathy Street.

May 29, 2013:  Members of the IA board of directors and volunteers participated in Springs Watch water monitoring training at Wetland Solutions.

June 15, 2013:  The IA website was launched, with the first blog entry by John Jopling, “Promises to Keep.”

June 24, 2013:

President Jopling submitted IA comments re: MFLs via letter to Ann Shortelle, SRWMD. IA went on record in favor of an MFL of no less than the river’s historical flow of 350 cubic feet per second (cfs).

The IA issued a press release calling for 350 cfs MFL.

The IA Facebook page was created.

July 12, 2013:  In kayaks and canoes, board members and volunteers participated in the first monthly Springs Watch water monitoring of the Lower Ichetucknee River.

July 2013:

The board of directors held planning retreat.

The IA endorsed Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign.

July 31, 2013:  John Jopling’s IA op-ed, “Thanks for supporting spray field project,” was published in the Lake City Reporter.

August 10, 2013:  Board members refined list of tasks for 2013-2014 to include:

  • A public event to introduce the Alliance to the community
  • Take a stand on MFLs
  • Advocate for proposed natural gas pipeline to be moved away from the Ichetucknee
  • Develop effective public presentations

August 2013:  The IA’s pipeline position paper was published on the website.

August 30, 2013:  Florida Power & Light gave verbal assurance to John Jopling that Sabal Trail’s proposed natural gas pipeline will not cross the Ichetucknee River. Jopling posted the announcement on the IA Facebook page.

September 7, 2013:  Jim Stevenson led a tour of the Ichetucknee Basin for Alliance members and board members.

December 13, 2013:  IA endorsed the Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration Campaign.

December 16, 2013:  President Jopling submitted final IA comments re: MFLs via letter to Ann Shortelle, SRWMD.

December 17, 2013:  Lu Merritt submitted IA comments re: FPL/Sabal Trail pipeline to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

January 16, 2014:  John Jopling’s IA op-ed, “Proposed MFLs inadequate,” was published in the Lake City Reporter.

February 2014:  Lu Merritt replaces Megan Olson as secretary.

February 13, 2014:  The IA launched a new manatee sighting program headed by volunteer Lars Andersen, who will work closely with Jim Stevenson on this project.

March 2014:  For members as well as educational tabling and other events, the Alliance produced an informational postcard with a map of the springshed on the front and recommended actions on the back.

The Alliance produced bumper stickers and window decals that are provided to members.

March 9, 2014:  The Alliance partnered with Current Problems for a cleanup at Cannon Sink in Lake City, in the Ichetucknee springshed.

March 29, 2014:  The Alliance had an information table at the Springs Celebration/Chili Cook-off sponsored by the Santa Fe River Springs Basin Working Group at O’Leno State Park outside High Springs.

May 2014:  At the request of the Suwannee River Water Management District, the Alliance offered a letter in support of a proposed Columbia County Water Conservation Initiative that will target local businesses for replacement of old water fixtures with new WaterSense products. The project is estimated to save 32 million gallons of water annually.

The Alliance joined with approximately 50 other organizations throughout Florida in signing a letter that asked Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi to drop Florida’s challenge to proposed water cleanup plans for Chesapeake Bay.

April 12, 2014:  The Alliance had an information table at the Alligator Lake Spring Festival sponsored by Four Rivers Audubon at Alligator Lake Recreation Area in Lake City.

April 25, 2014:  The Alliance joined the Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF), represented by Earthjustice, in petitioning for an administrative hearing on a proposed new Florida Department of Environmental Protection rule that sets minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers. For more information, see: http://ichetuckneealliance.org/minimum-flows-and-levels-mfls/

May 28-30 and June 12-13, 2014:  The administrative hearing on the Alliance’s challenge to the proposed new MFL rule for the Ichetucknee and Lower Santa Fe Rivers was held in Tallahassee with Bram Canter as the presiding administrative law judge. Lawyers from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Suwannee River Water Management District, and a consortium of utility companies defended the rule. Blog postings to the website kept members informed about some of the proceedings. For more information, see: http://ichetuckneealliance.org/minimum-flows-and-levels-mfls/

August 2014:  Design of first membership brochure completed; brochures printed.

September 10, 2014:  The U.S. Internal Revenue Service officially recognized the Ichetucknee Alliance as a federally tax exempt public charity.

September 11, 2014:  Administrative Law Judge Bram Canter ruled that vague language in the proposed MFL rule invalidates the whole rule. The winning argument was made by MFL challenger Paul Still, who represented himself at the hearings in May and June 2014.

September 23, 2014:  The Alliance awarded $400 to the Fort White PARKnership Program, in which students from Fort White Middle and High Schools use Ichetucknee Springs State Park as an outdoor classroom and service-learning center. The program is fully integrated into the curricula of both schools and meets Florida’s instructional standards.

October 24, 2014:  Board members Jill Lingard and Lu Merritt made the Alliance’s first public presentation about the Ichetucknee to a group of people on a Paddle Florida tour of the Ichetucknee, Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers.

November 20, 2014:  The Alliance made a well-received presentation to the Columbia County Commission that included information about the Alliance’s work to date and recommendations for future actions that could benefit the Ichetucknee.

December 18, 2014:  At a public hearing before the Columbia County Commission, Secretary/Staff Assistant Lu Merritt read the Alliance’s statement in support of a water conservation ordinance being considered by the  Commission at the request of the Suwannee River Water Management District. The ordinance was adopted.

February 3, 2015:  Members of the Ichetucknee Alliance Board of Directors met with representatives of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Suwannee River Water Management District to express concern about ongoing degradation in the Ichetucknee River System. We asked the agencies’ representatives to enforce Florida Law to protect the Ichetucknee and gave them a list of recommendations. See the press release for details.

February 13, 2015:  Administrative Law Judge Bram Canter upheld the new MFL rule for the Ichetucknee and Lower Santa Fe rivers that was proposed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Suwannee River Water Management District.

February 15, 2015:  Members of the Ichetucknee Alliance Board of Directors voted to have the Alliance join the newly formed Florida Springs Council, an ad hoc group that will focus on legal, legislative and education/communications strategies to restore Florida’s springs to health.

March 9, 2015:  The Alliance held the first Water Voices event in cooperation with Our Santa Fe River and the High Springs New Century Woman’s Club. The event featured Pegeen Hanrahan and Aliki Moncrief of Florida Water and Land Legacy/Amendment 1.

March 14, 2015:  Members of the Alliance’s Board of Directors staffed an information table at the Ichetucknee Springs Environmental Showcase held at Ichetucknee Springs State Park.

March 28, 2015:  Members of the Alliance’s Board of Directors staffed an information table at the O’Leno Olé Springs Celebration and Chili Cookoff at O’Leno State Park.

April 11, 2015:  Members of the Alliance’s Board of Directors staffed an information table at the Alligator Lake Spring Festival in Lake City.

April 28, 2015:  The Alliance held the second Water Voices event in cooperation with Our Santa Fe River and the High Springs New Century Woman’s Club. The event featured retired FDEP Water Policy Administrator Tom Swihart, who spoke about “Florida’s Water Policy Toolbox.”

Late July 2015: Alliance board members and volunteers helped with a grant-funded baseline study of the Lower Ichetucknee River led by the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute.

September 14, 2015: The Alliance held the third Water Voices event in cooperation with Our Santa Fe River and the High Springs New Century Woman’s Club. The event featured panel moderator Cynthia Barnett and panelists Bob Ulanowicz, Jim McFarlane and Lucinda Faulkner Merritt speaking about “Ethics, Faith & Water: A Confluence.” (Sister Patricia Siemen was unable to attend but will be a scheduled speaker at another session of Water Voices.)

October 15, 2015: Alliance President John Jopling and Secretary/Staff Assistant Lucinda Faulkner Merritt attended a meeting of the Columbia County Commission to ask commissioners to re-visit the county’s zoning designations as a result of the siting of a poultry farm that could pollute the Floridan aquifer.

January 12, 2016:  IA Board member Lu Merritt read a statement to the Suwannee River Water Management District Board of Directors asking for a moratorium on large water use permits.

January 20, 2016:  IA Board and Advisory Board members met with the Executive Director and staff of the Suwannee River Water Management District to press for more protections for the river system, including a Restoration Focus Area.

February 29, 2016:  The Alliance held the fourth Water Voices event in cooperation with Our Santa Fe River and the Water Resources program at Florida Gateway College in Lake City. Geologist Jim Gross spoke on “Up & Down With the Floridan Aquifer.”

March 19, 2016:  The Alliance staffed an information table at SpringsFest at Silver Springs State Park.

July 16-August 27, 2016:  The Alliance had a presence at the Smithsonian Institution’s Water/Ways exhibition at the High Springs Historical Museum with a five-panel display focused on long-term water problems experienced by the Ichetucknee as well as potential solutions, including a Florida water ethic. The display included a pedestal with new informational brochures and a “fishbowl” from which people could pull a “water fortune.”

July 25, 2016:  The Alliance held the fifth Water Voices event in cooperation with Our Santa Fe River and the High Springs New Century Woman’s Club and in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s Water/Ways exhibition at the High Springs Historical Museum. Attorneys Heather Culp Obara and Traci Deen spoke about “Why Aren’t Florida’s Water Laws Protecting Florida’s Water?”

September 30-October 2, 2016: The Alliance’s new display was on view, several members of our Board and Advisory Board participated, and we were able to offer three scholarships for people to attend the Florida Springs Restoration Summit that was organized by the Florida Springs Council and held in Ocala. Nuriya Bechtel, who created one of the images used in the Alliance’s new informational brochure, won second place in the event’s poster contest for her poster that emphasized the need for a Florida water ethic. See https://www.springsrestorationsummit.org/ for information about the summit.

September-October 2016: The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute published its new Lower Ichetucknee Baseline Assessment that included the river’s overall “C-minus” grade on a new report card. The Alliance issued a press release about the new report card on October 30, 2016.

Late October-Early November, 2016: The Alliance’s new display was on view at the Columbia County Fair in Lake City.

December 3, 2016: With input from members of our Advisory Board, the Alliance submitted to state agencies comments that were critical of the draft North Central Florida Regional Water Supply Plan.

March 3, 2017: Members of the Alliance’s Board and Advisory Board participated in a meeting organized by the Suwannee River Water Management District to explore the possibility of having environmental advocates placed on a re-constituted Suwannee River Partnership group.

March 17, 2017: The Alliance filed a Petition for Administrative Hearing to challenge the new North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan that was approved by the Suwannee River Water Management District and the St. Johns River Water Management District on January 17, 2017.

March 29-30, 2017: Members of the Alliance’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board attended public meetings about and commented on the draft Unit Management Plan for Ichetucknee Springs State Park.

April 2017: Members of the Alliance’s Board of Directors staffed information tables at the O’Leno Chili Cookoff and Springs Festival at O’Leno State Park and the Alligator Lake Spring Festival in Lake City.

Summer 2017: The Alliance filed an appeal of the dismissal of our challenge to the draft North Central Florida Regional Water Supply Plan; the Suwannee River and St. Johns River water management districts had dismissed the challenge.

July 13, 2017: The Alliance sent a letter to the Acquisition and Restoration Council, the state agency that reviews and approves the unit management plans for Florida’s state parks, asking for more protection for the Ichetucknee River. We requested that tubing on the upper Ichetucknee River be banned and that the plan include a statement that the Suwannee River Water Management District is the state agency responsible for ensuring that the water level on the Ichetucknee River is high enough to allow manatees to enter the Ichetucknee at its confluence with the Santa Fe River.

August 2017: The Alliance released its new “No Water No Farms No Food” bumper sticker that was designed to restore the primacy of water to farms and food. Without water, no farms; without farms, no food. Also this month, the Alliance launched a new Facebook page for official announcements. We will continue to maintain our Facebook group discussion page.

September 23, 2017: Members of the Alliance’s Board and Advisory Board toured the Ichetucknee Basin (springshed) with Advisory Board member Jim Stevenson.

Ongoing/Springs Watch Program:  Members of the Alliance and volunteers are monitoring water conditions monthly as part of the Springs Watch project on the Lower Ichetucknee River (outside the state park).  Using a GPS system and a digital camera along with other instruments, the group monitors dissolved oxygen, the amount of light available to drive plant growth, and levels of salts in the water. As of 2016, a separate team is keeping records of fish counts on the Lower Ichetucknee River.

 



Recent Posts

Traveling the Trace on Saturday, September 23, 2017
Text and Photos by Robert Ulanowicz, Ph.D., Ichetucknee Advisory Board Member

There was a break in the heat as the small group of Ichetucknee Alliance...

Ichetucknee Alliance Comments on State Park’s New Management Plan

On July 13, 2017, the Ichetucknee Alliance sent comments about the new unit management plan for Ichetucknee Springs State Park to the Acquisition and...

Our New Bumper Sticker: Why “No Water No Farms No Food”?

“No Water No Farms No Food” is the more complete message because it restores water to its primary place of importance—to our farmers, to our...