FSI engages in year-round monitoring and analysis of springs health across the state. The data collected is then distributed to the public and local and state leaders through restoration plans and educational presentations. In addition to the dissemination of important scientific info on springs, the Florida Springs Institute also conducts experiments and projects with the goal of creating a better understanding of the core biological functions of springs and finding safe and sustainable methods for restoration.
Restoration Action Plans
Existing Springs Restoration Plans*:
*All of FSI's completed Restoration Action Plans and Executive Summaries can be found here.
Florida Springs & River Systems
Springs Restoration Action Plans typically include detailed information about the following topics:
Ichetucknee, Rainbow & Wakulla Springs
FSI has been conducting limited springs baseline monitoring since its inauguration in May 2010. This monitoring has included a variety of ecological parameters patterned after the twelve spring ecosystem comparison conducted by Wetland Solutions, Inc. in 2009 under contract with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Three Rivers Trust. The importance of this type of springs baseline monitoring is that it provides a quantitative reference point for comparison to future conditions to detect positive or negative changes in springs health.
Last year the FSI received three springs license tag grants from the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. These grants provide support for baseline sampling at the lower Ichetucknee River, the lower Rainbow River, and the lower Wakulla River. These are three spring runs that have received almost no previous scientific study. These three grants provide enough funding for FSI staff and interns to organize and oversee ecological monitoring of these spring runs. The intent of these three studies is for an army of volunteers to come together under FSI’s oversight to form teams to collect specific types of ecological data. .
A draft Springs Ecology Baseline Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) document can be viewed here. The SOP lists the types of ecological indices we hope to include in these springs baseline studies. We plan to develop a variety of teams, each of which will have one or more indices to measure simultaneously at each spring run segment. Each baseline event will cover from one to two weeks. Each spring run will be studied twice, once in the summer/fall, and once in the winter/spring.
The second round of sampling occurred on:
FSI's experienced scientists are now compiling the ecological data from these three spring runs to evaluate their current state of health. These formal assessments will be used as tools to measure the successes and failures of future management practices, restoration projects, and pollution reduction measures.
Silver Springs, Ichetucknee River, Rainbow River & Homosassa Springs
Florida SPRINGSWATCH is a volunteer citizen springs monitoring program initiated at local springs with grant funding from the Protect Florida Springs Tag Grant Program. This program facilitates "hands-on" citizen participation in the management of Florida’s springs by conducting monthly monitoring activities. Coordinated through the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, the SPRINGSWATCH program is now active at spring systems along the Silver, Ichetucknee, Rainbow and Homosassa rivers.
The SPRINGSWATCH project is important in providing a quantitative record of the environmental conditions in our springs. Nitrate nitrogen concentrations are increasing in the springs and flows are declining. While the Water Management Districts are tracking flows and water quality at a few stations, the majority of these human-induced changes affecting the aquatic organisms at these springs are not being recorded on an on-going basis. Citizen volunteers can help to fill this knowledge gap with a relatively small amount of equipment, training, and assistance with data collection and analysis.
Data to be collected includes water quality field parameters (temperature, dissolved oxygen, and specific conductance), water surface stage readings, measurement of vertical light attenuation, measurement of horizontal Secchi depth visibility, photo station documentation of aquatic plants and wildlife, and observations of other wildlife and human uses.
Blue-Water Audit Project
Reduce Your Aquifer Footprint!
Every one of us living in North Florida has a stake in preserving this natural bounty for the future. The Floridan Aquifer is a public trust to be used wisely for ourselves and the public good. With our legal right to a share of this groundwater resource, tapping the aquifer becomes a responsibility. We must be vigilant of our own impacts on the aquifer and of the impacts of our neighbors. Good stewardship is dependent on knowledge. We need to know our “personal aquifer footprint” as well as the footprint of the people and businesses around us. By having a quantitative scale for comparison, we can make ethical judgments to moderate excessive groundwater impacts by a few.
That is why the Florida Springs Institute has initiated the Blue-Water Audit Project. Utilizing best available data, FSI scientists are developing a spreadsheet computer program to estimate the aquifer impacts of individuals, families, neighborhood associations, schools, cities, farmers, and other businesses. The Blue-Water Audit will allow entities to estimate the amount of groundwater they consume and the amount of nitrogen pollution they contribute to the groundwater.
Check back soon for more info about how you can conduct your own Blue Water Audit. This knowledge will make you a more conscientious citizen with a stake in protecting your priceless groundwater inheritance.
In 2014, seven representatives from various Florida springs advocacy groups – Friends of Warm Mineral Springs, the Ichetucknee Alliance, the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, the Kings Bay Springs Alliance, Our Santa Fe River, Inc., Save the Manatee Club, the Wakulla Springs Alliance, and Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration, Inc. (formerly Withlacoochee Area Residents, Inc.) – met as the Organizing Committee for the Florida Springs Council.
This ad hoc organization is comprised of representatives from all Florida organizations that focus all or part of their group’s energies on springs issues and, by extension, issues that affect the Floridan aquifer that feeds the springs. No one springs advocacy organization can hope to tackle the regional threats to springs, develop new and creative solutions to problems that affect the springs, or ensure that the state’s leaders are held accountable for improving springs health.
Since its formation, the Florida Springs Council continues to work to ensure the restoration, preservation and protection for future generations of Florida’s freshwater springs and the Floridan aquifer that sustains those springs and provides our drinking water. The Florida Springs Council provides a coordinated alliance of the many thousands of Floridians who think that our state’s priceless springs and aquifer have already suffered too much from the avoidable impacts of human development. The main focus areas of the Council are springs education, legislation, and remediation.
The Council continues to grow in membership and currently represents thirty-five springs-focused organizations across the state of Florida, whose memberships total more than 120,000 Floridians. From September 30 - October 2, 2016, the Council will host the Florida Springs Restoration Summit in Ocala. The Summit will focus on current springs science and innovative solutions for springs protection. For more info about the Summit, click here.
To learn more about the Florida Springs Council and its initiatives, please click here.