Forum Seeks to Save Silver Springs and the St. Johns

June 16, 2013 7 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Tonight, experts will address threats to Silver Springs and the St. Johns River in a panel discussion that will be held at the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk. Here is a look at the forum's official press release.

On Monday, June 17th at 6 p.m., St. Johns RIVERKEEPER and Sierra Club of Northeast Florida, along with our partners at the Florida Springs Institute and Center for Earth Jurisprudence, are hosting a forum to raise awareness about the significant threats to Silver Springs and the St. Johns River and to engage the community in efforts to protect and restore these natural treasures.  A panel of experts will provide updates on the severely degraded health conditions of Silver Springs, the significant threats facing the springs from a massive cattle operation, and the impacts to the St. Johns River.
Save Silver & the St. Johns
A forum to discuss the threats to our springs and rivers.
Monday, June 17th    6 p.m.
Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk

1515 Prudential Drive, Jacksonville  32207
Map and Directions:
Open and Free to the Public

The speakers will be available prior to the forum between 4 and 6 p.m. for interviews. Call Lisa Rinaman at 904-509-3260 to schedule an interview.

Speakers will include: Dr. Robert Knight, Director of the Florida Springs Institute and one of the foremost experts on Silver Springs; Sister Patricia Seimen, J.D., Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law; Janet Stanko, Chair of Sierra Club Northeast Florida; and Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper.
Silver Springs, once called "Nature's Underwater Fairyland," was Florida's first major attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world to its magical waters.  For centuries, the iconic springs have also provided an important source of fresh, clean water to the St. Johns River system.  Millions of gallons of water bubble up from the aquifer each day, flowing into the Silver River, then to the Ocklawaha River, before reaching the St. Johns.
Despite its historical and ecological importance, the health of Silver Springs has declined significantly over the last several decades. Nearly 92% of the fish biomass has disappeared, the flow from the springs has dramatically decreased, algae covers a significant portion of the spring floor, and the water now flashes a hint of green instead of silver. This is due to impacts from encroaching development, over-pumping of groundwater, loss of aquifer recharge areas, runoff of fertilizer from farms and lawns, and poorly treated wastewater.
Now, Adena Springs Ranch, a massive cattle operation, is seeking a permit to withdraw over 5.3 million gallons of water a day to raise more than 15,000 head of cattle on property located within miles of this highly polluted springs system.
 St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman expresses the urgency of this issue: “If we can't save Silver Springs of all places, then what can we save and what is worth protecting?  The outcome of this issue will help shape the future of Florida’s water resources.  If our regulatory agencies are really serious about protecting and restoring the health of our springs and rivers, then they will deny this permit.”
Janet Stanko, Chair of the Sierra Club of Northeast Florida, says, “The flow from Silver Springs has declined by more than 50%.  State officials have called for a 79% reduction in the amount of nutrient pollution that is entering the springs and Silver River.  If this permit is allowed to go through, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
St. Johns Riverkeeper and Sierra Club Northeast Florida are opposed to the Adena Springs Ranch permit, due to serious potential impacts to the flow of Silver Springs and Silver River and an increase in pollution from fertilizers and livestock waste.
St. Johns Riverkeeper is a privately-funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization that serves as an independent voice for the St. Johns River.  Our mission is to work on behalf of the community for clean and healthy waters in the St. Johns River, its tributaries and its wetlands, through citizen-based advocacy.  
Sierra Club of Northeast Florida is the local group of the state and national Sierra organization whose mission is to explore, enjoy and protect the planet.  To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.