There’s nothing quite like Florida’s springs. Bubbling up from the porous limestone bedrock that holds the vast Florida aquifer, these unique natural gems provide recreation opportunities, drinking water, a habitat for endangered species, an archaeological goldmine, and an unparalleled source of natural beauty, in the form of crystal-clear pools of water.
Our springs are under threat, however. Slimy algae is suffocating many springs, as a result of increased nitrates in the water source. Spring flow is decreasing, as water use for Florida’s growing population increases. And it could get worse.
Springwater isn’t the only thing drying up – so is funding for restoration and preservation of springs. The state legislature agreed to only $30M of funding for this purpose, although Gov. Rick Scott, no environmentalist himself, had asked for $55M.
The time to take action is now, and this year, there’s a great way to start. Florida’s Amendment 1, the Water and Land Conservation amendment, will appear on this year’s ballot. It will direct existing tax monies to “protect natural areas and wildlife habitat and preserve our water quality”. That includes the springs, as well as many other of Florida’s most ecologically vital and attractive natural features.
To show the importance of saving our springs in the run-up to this November’s vote, I will be traveling to as many springs as I can, photographing them and documenting the experience. A plethora of excellent photos already exist for many of Florida’s springs, but this project will be a snapshot of the “state of the springs” in 2014, to highlight their enduring beauty, and perhaps also their current plight. It’s going to be a journey. Come with me!