From June 2013 Citrus Cty Chronicle
Lip Service & Futile Action
Heads are in the sand at all levels of government in Florida as well as across our nation. In our state, at our back door, is an abundance of evidence that politicians and administrators refuse to acknowledge the root cause of water resource depletion and degradation. Without water the economic engine they continuously hope to exploit for themselves and their supporters and on behalf of the “public” in general, will not run!
Water withdrawals have lowered our precious aquifer to the point that spring flows, river ecology, natural surface retention bodies and municipal and private systems that feed on this source are on the brink of shut down. One of hundreds, an example of this obvious distain and practiced denial is water permitting to private business under the guise of new jobs and the economic stimulus of new business. And business pays nothing for this inventory/commodity that belongs first to nature and second to us. Stewardship - - - baloney!
The basis for this entire fiasco is people. A thousand, or more a day cross our border (the state line) too. We build and create more infrastructure, and public service. And the pressure on resources, like a cancer, manifests itself in dying, chemical laden rivers, dying estuary plant life and disappearing animals and aquatic creatures. Upside down natural responses such as the algal explosions alter nature’s balance. Wells have salt water intruding and/ or mineral poisoning. Even rain patterns have gone negative. Our school children know that rain is not some magical occurrence or God given gift. It requires surface water and humidity from vaporization of same to charge clouds that in turn replenish water bodies and the earth’s substrata below. Today, demand exceeds supply and the results are negative. This ain’t rocket science!
Vast amounts of our tax paid money is spent on crumbling and/or depreciated capital improvements. Support services for an unchecked population expansion outpaces these tax revenues, impact fees, licensing, and other ingenious methods for raising funds under the category of public welfare such as a land fill. Land fills are essential to the growth process. Once full, in just a few decades they can be reclaimed for development! They must be important, our local state Senator has one. Look around. It is nothing but a Ponzi scheme. The downward spiral tightens daily. The root of all this evil? PEOPLE! More people!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch. State and local government is always in a dither over how to attract new business and get more people to come to “our” community. It goes without saying, that “our” community suffers after the carrying capacity is exceeded. Have you ever had this thought, recently ? “Where the hell is all this traffic coming from?”
Now add a recession. Did you see the 60 pages of mice-type, for 1,461 properties with delinquent real estate taxes in the Chronicle (Friday, May 3rd)? There goes the tax base and scary plunges in revenue, on top of Duke’s reneging. Too many people. A bitter pill to swallow, debate, or acknowledge. We’ll never see a legal mandate in our state to halt the overwhelming influx of people or restrict development. It’s like running from a tidal wave. Barring a natural miracle, we have exceeded our environmental balance. God, save us from ourselves!
Local recession, water resources, Crystal River, Citrus County, Growth, Infrastructure, politics
From September 2013 submitted
The nature of this battle needs to be redirected and reversed. There are a lot of very bright, passionate people who have taken up the standard to Save Our Springs, restore and protect our surface water, our coastal streams, estuarine systems, and the attendant source, the life giving Floridan Aquifer. They have sponsored stewardship, spent thousands of private and public monies to further obvious goals and even litigated government policy mistakes to cease and desist the destructive depletion of a limited resource supply - - natural WATER.
Government control and regulation of this commodity must be revolutionized. Decades of brokered exploitation, political rationalization for permitting, and regulatory weakness along with manipulated application of excellent science must cease. Our water management districts employ some of the smartest environmental scientists in the country. Insightful data is accumulated and new perspectives for water management are developed continuously. But, the state’s lawmakers and the Management Districts themselves have done a lousy job of protecting and managing our most important resource.
My perspective on surface water and flowing springs harks back over 60 years when as a youngster I made my first visit to Silver Springs. Aquatic life filled the spring head on a scale not matched today, even in our magnificent man made aquariums. In 1954 the U.S. Geodetic Survey reported that Silver Spring’s annual flow was 904 cubic feet per second. Divers reported that it was physically impossible to swim into the springhead because of the strong current and it was considered too dangerous to attempt. The next ten years, average flows were down to 778 cubic feet per second. During this period, the state’s population nearly doubled to 5 million residents. Surface water covered a third of the state. And agriculture (mostly cattle) was big business in Florida along with Big Sugar that converted thousands of acres in the Everglades watershed to sugarcane. This lead to the multi-faceted damage and destruction to that ecosystem which now has spread south to Florida Bay.
Today, even with the recession, politicians and policy administrators have made people the primary business engine for the Sunshine State. New arrivals cross our borders by the thousands every month and in the big picture, we all know what the consequences are.
In 2012, annual flow for Silver Springs was 359 cubic feet per second. The average outflow for the preceding decade is down to 533 cubic feet per second, a loss of 31% from the 1950’s. The Ocklawaha River, into which the Silver River flows, is as continuously green as the upside down Harris Chain of Lakes at its head. The beloved and renowned Silver Springs hosts, dozens of garfish that can tolerate the low dissolved oxygen levels because they can gulp air from the surface, a hand full of bream no bigger than your palm, and periodic, sundry concerts on the grounds of the dying tourist attraction.
Our population continues to grow exponentially. The 1950 census scored us at 2.77 million people, the 2011 census, just under 20 million. A 700% increase! At this rate, dated projections are no longer relevant (25 million by the year 2025?). The immediate future is scary.
The Tampa Bay Times ran an article on August 18th about the wild west style dilemma that has probably destroyed Apalachicola Bay. The biggest offender, Atlanta, has been withdrawing so much water from Lake Lanier at the headwater of the Apalachicola River that the freshwater supply to the Bay has been diminished to a point that the oyster fishery has collapsed. In futile confabs to mediate this situation Florida pols have failed to get any concessions from Georgia and/or Alabama on reduced flows to the Bay. Sound familiar?
The many instances of environmental deterioration in our local region are enough to raise serious concerns. Sadly, we are just a part of the picture. But we stand to lose the most. We are already losing millions of economic dollars now. And the bank for the future is overdrawn. There are two vital things that we as citizens should do. First, is vote out the political cadre who have tunnel vision and receive too much moneyed influence. This means voting them out and voting the next one out, until election means for public service, again. Second, demand that our Water Management Districts manage and that environmental agencies of the state start practicing environmental responsibility. Again sadly, a tall order, but doable.
Spring flows, population explosion, estuary distress,