DEP Hosts Jackson Blue Spring and Merritt’s Mill Pond Restoration Plan Meeting

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection last night engaged local governments, agricultural producers and other stakeholders in the first in a series of Basin Management Action Plan, or BMAP, development meetings. The purpose of the BMAP is to restore the water quality of Jackson Blue Spring and Merritt’s Mill Pond. Jackson Blue is a first magnitude spring located in Jackson County within the Apalachicola River Basin.

Jackson Blue Spring and Merritt’s Mill Pond suffer from nutrient pollution. Preliminary information indicates nitrate contribution to Jackson Blue Spring and Merritt’s Mill Pond is derived primarily from inorganic fertilizer use and to a lesser degree from septic systems and animal waste being washed off by stormwater and seeping into the underlying karst geology. The nutrient pollution is then readily transported by ground water and surface streams to the springs.

“Too much nitrogen from fertilizers and human and animal waste is harming this treasure just as it is many springs in Florida,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “Solving the problem requires well-planned, aggressively executed local and state investments and actions, which this restoration plan is being designed to achieve.”

Jackson Blue Spring contributes approximately 69 percent of the total flow to Merritt’s Mill Pond. Jackson Blue Spring and Merritt’s Mill Pond are economically valuable to the state and local communities. Public land near Jackson Blue Spring includes the 195-acre Blue Springs Recreational Area.

This restoration meeting focused on informing stakeholders of the current water quality status, as well as explaining the pollutant reduction target, called a total maximum daily load, or TMDL. The TMDL indicates the maximum amount of a pollutant that may be present in a water body if the water body is to be considered healthy.

In the past three years, twice as much funding has been dedicated exclusively to springs protection as in any other three-year period in Florida history. Governor Rick Scott recently proposed $55 million for restoring and protecting Florida’s springs in the 2014-2015 “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget.”

More information about DEP’s water quality restoration program can be found here.

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