DEP celebrates April as Springs Protection Awareness Month

TALLAHASSEE — Florida is home to more large freshwater springs than any other state in the nation. In recognition of their environmental, recreational and economic importance, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is proud to celebrate April as Springs Protection Awareness Month.

Under Governor Scott’s leadership, the state of Florida has dedicated historic funding to Florida’s springs, with an investment of more than $191 million in state funding.

Since 2007, more than $360 million has been invested in Florida’s springs through DEP and matching water management district and local government funding, the highest amount of funding in Florida’s history. The Securing Florida’s Future budget recently signed by Governor Scott appropriates an additional $50 million for springs projects for Fiscal Year 2018-2019.

“In addition to their recreational value, and being economic drivers for our communities, springs are also the window into the health of our groundwater, the source of 90 percent of drinking water for Floridians,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Partnership is the key to their protection and restoration. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and Legislature, the water management districts, and partners in the environmental, agricultural and local communities so that Florida’s future generations will continue to enjoy these unique natural treasures.”

The state of Florida is nationally recognized for its water quality assessment and restoration programs that incorporate monitoring, assessment, planning, partnerships and funding to safeguard springs.

“Florida’s springs face various complex challenges, including decreasing spring flows and excessive nutrients. Because we have the data and the scientific expertise, we know what it will take to restore them,” said Tom Frick, director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “DEP and Florida’s water management districts collaborate with local stakeholders to identify and implement key projects that will help improve water quality, recharge water flow and protect habitat in Florida’s iconic spring systems.”

“Much has been done to date; however, there is more work to be done for springs restoration and long-term protection. Thanks to this dedicated funding source, this important work can continue,” said Frick.

“The springs restoration and protection program has been a real game-changer for northwest Florida,” said Brett Cyphers, executive director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District. “We are seeing great progress in our springs and that is thanks to the support from Secretary Valenstein and Governor Scott.”

“The state of Florida and the St. Johns River Water Management District have made science-based protection of Florida’s Outstanding Florida Springs among our highest priorities,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Springs are complex natural ecosystems and a special feature of Florida’s environment. They are extraordinary places that are important to our citizens, as well as to the regional economy and visitors of our state. These are among the many reasons the district has co-funded more than 100 springs protection projects over the past four years to benefit our Outstanding Florida Springs.”

“Our springs are the literal lifeblood of our communities, and they face some major challenges,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director for the Suwannee River Water Management District. “This outreach effort showcases the powerful role we all play in the protection and stewardship of resources. Thank you, Governor Scott and DEP, for continuing to promote these natural wonders and preserving a centuries-old way of life – we are proud to stand alongside you.”

“This is an opportune time for the future of our springs,” said Brian Armstrong, Executive Director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. “Thanks to the continued support from the Governor and Legislature, the district is working closely with DEP and our local government partners to provide funding for septic-to-sewer conversions that will reduce nutrients and improve the water quality of our beautiful springs for future generations.”

Learn more about the state’s water quality monitoring and assessment programs.

In celebration of Springs Protection Awareness Month, DEP is partnering with the water management districts to launch a public outreach initiative called “My Home. My Springs.” The initiative highlights the uniqueness and importance of Florida’s springs, as well as the state’s restoration efforts and the expertise behind them.

By visiting www.MyHomeMySprings.org, residents can access many informative resources such as fact sheets, videos, educator resources, a springs locator tool and more.

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