Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Senators hear plight of Wakulla Springs
A manatee surfaces in Wakulla Springs near a tour boat carrying members and staff of the Senate Select Committee on Florida's Inland Waters
Eight Florida senators today heard from Wakulla Springs State Park supporters about their efforts to fight increasing nitrogen levels that have caused the springs to become choked with weeds and algae.
The Senate Select Committee on Florida's Inland Waters is holding hearings around the state as it develops possible legislation to regulate pollution affecting springs. Committee members toured Wakulla Springs by boat, viewing alligators, manatees and an assortment of bird life.
Representatives of Friends of Wakulla Springs told senators they had to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Tallahassee wastewater was to blame for nitrogen in groundwater at Wakulla Springs before the city and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection took action.
"Government has not done a good job of protecting springs -- I think this one is a case study in that," said Dorothy Routh, a founding member of Friends of Wakulla Springs.
A DEP representative responded by pointing out that DEP paid for a study that traced the groundwater under the city spray field flowing to Wakulla Springs.
Other speakers said that springs around the state are affected by a variety of nitrogen sources, including farms, septic tanks and dirty stormwater runoff.
"I think what we all understand and need to understand with legislation going forward is that one size does not fit all," said Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs and committee chairman.
He has introduced SB 568, the Florida Springs Protection Act, which he describes as a placeholder while the committee develops legislation.
The committee meets again Feb. 12 in Palatka, Feb. 22 in Punta Gorda and Feb. 25 (tentative) in Gainesville.
(Photo and story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or reproduce without permission.)