Over the years, as Florida has swelled to an unsustainable population of 20 million people, the amount of water sucked out of the Floridan Aquifer has diminished the flow of all of our beautiful springs to about half of their historic flow rates. The saddest thing about it is, that a little over half of all of the water used in Florida goes to irrigating farms, golf courses and suburban lawns. The tons of pesticides and fertilizers used in those endeavors has now seeped into the aquifer and is showing up as choking algae in our springs and drinking water.
However, the springs (and our aquifer) are not beyond saving. I, along with thousands of other like-minded Floridians, am currently in the fight to deny a consumptive use permit that would allow a daily withdrawal of 13 million gallons for a proposed 20,000 head cattle ranch, feed lot and slaughterhouse to be located within the watershed of Silver Springs. To add salt to the wound, the cattle ranch is foreign-owned by a fat cat billionaire Canadian. If allowed, this will certainly be the death knell of one the most precious natural resources in America.
Anyway, it's been many a year since I was on the Silver River so I jumped at the chance of joining my old friend Pat and her uncle Al for a look see. As you can see, there is every reason on earth to fight this battle to the end.
|We arrived on the river just after a rain and the mist still hung across the water. The promised blue sky never arrived and the day was misty with occasional light rain adding mystery to an already haunting environment.|
|The river is smooth as glass only disturbed by the swift current of the now slightly cloudy, but still beautifully clear water.|
|Soaking up heat from an overcast sun. The springs flow at a constant temperature of 70 degrees F which seems warm until you spend a little time in it. In the winter the spring-fed rivers become a haven to the manatees who seek the warmth.|
|The heart and soul of Florida. While the sunny beaches are the hot attraction, it's the swamps and marshes that pump life into the system.|
We cannot allow the money-grubbers to steal our inheritance and destroy the beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. To arms, to arms my friends! Or, at least... to pen and keyboard! Tell them we're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore.