July 20, 2015
OCALA, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is hosting a public meeting on July 23 to discuss the water-quality restoration plan for Silver Springs. DEP representatives will review the draft restoration plan and provide an update of the identified nitrogen sources, proposed water-quality restoration projects and ongoing water-quality monitoring efforts.
“The department has been working closely with local stakeholders to develop a restoration plan that will improve the water quality of Silver Springs,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “We appreciate their effort and commitment to this natural treasure.”
Nutrient pollution, or an excess of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, is one of the greatest water-quality challenges facing many of Florida’s spring systems. These nutrients are naturally present in the water and necessary for the healthy growth of plant and animal life; however, an excess of nutrients can lead to complications in the water like rapid algal growth, habitat smothering and oxygen depletion.
Silver Springs is one of the largest and most well-known of Florida’s first magnitude springs. The system is a historic international tourist attraction for its naturally clear water, abundant fish and wildlife, and famous glass-bottom boats. In the past several decades, however, nutrient pollution has led to increased algal growth and decreased water clarity. To address this issue and return the spring system to health, the department is working with local stakeholders to identify and implement the restoration projects needed to reduce nitrogen levels and improve water quality.
As an example of these continued collaborative restoration efforts, DEP has recently committed over $1 million to remove septic tanks within Silver Springs State Park and replace them with municipal sewer connections. This removal will eliminate nitrogen leaching into groundwater and consequently into the spring system from the state park. The project is estimated to eliminate 2,372 pounds of nitrogen annually from entering the spring system.
The meeting announcement, location and other information can be viewed here.