San Diego, CA
Silver Springs Florida
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© Christine Till
Before Disney World, Silver Springs in Central Florida was for decades one of the state's most popular tourist destinations. It was not an amusement park in the sense of Coney Island and the rides that one might associate with it. It was the kind of natural Florida that nature lovers are craving to see.
From the walkway that overlooks the head spring, the water is still blue and crystal clear, with fish, turtles and alligators clearly visible. But look closer and you'll see the problem: Pollution from agriculture and residential development has helped coat the spring with algae. In 2013, Florida's park service will take over Silver Springs and begin work to restore it to its natural state. For Silver Springs the state takeover is good news. No so for its surrounding neighbors. To improve the water quality of the springs, Florida regulators have set targets for reducing the amount of nitrates. Hitting those targets, though, will mean addressing the sources of pollution, putting thousands of septic tanks on public sewer systems, and aggressively reducing the amount of fertilizer used by homeowners and farmers.
Florida's endangered Silver Springs, just one of the Florida fresh water bodies that are in dire straits, are a symptom of a much larger problem. With development and wells sunk for everything from golf courses to bottled water plants, Florida's aquifer is being depleted. In some areas, the aquifer - which most Floridians rely on for drinking water - has dropped by 60 feet.
May 2nd, 2013
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