- ABOUT US
- Rights of Springs
Attendance is free for the Welcome Reception on Thursday, March 21, hosted by the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, and for the Summit on Friday, March 22, both at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. CLE credits are available for attorneys (6 hours).
Speakers include Karen Ahlers, Bill Belleville, Cris Costello of the Sierra Club, Andrew Miller, Esq. of The Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida, Jim Stevenson, Jason Totoui, Esq. of the Everglades Law Center, John R. Thomas, Esq., and Sonny Vergara. The luncheon speaker is Kevin Spear, environmental reporter with the Orlando Sentinel.
Speak Up Wekiva, featuring Senator Bob Graham and others, will educate and unite the public in calling for more effective protection and restoration of the Wekiva River. Live music, an art exhibit, a film tent, and a wet to dry nature trail guided by park staff will guarantee plenty of fun for the whole family, all in the beautiful setting of Wekiwa Springs State Park.
Everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to sign a petition calling for the prompt implementation of a recovery strategy to restore the springs of the Wekiva River Basin to their minimum flow levels.
Although the Wekiva River is one of the most protected rivers in the United States, both the river and the springs that feed it are significantly impaired in water quality and quantity. Reduced spring flows degrade the ecosystem for both natural and recreational uses, and increased amounts of nitrates and phosphorous lead to algae blooms that damage the ecosystem for wildlife and humans.
Reduced flow and increased pollutants result from wasteful water use by a growing human population, excessive residential and agriculture fertilizers, poorly maintained septic tanks, and the failure of regulatory agencies to effectively implement protections under the law.
This event provides the opportunity to stand up and be counted on behalf of Florida’s uniquely water-driven ecology and the precious springs and ecosystems of the singularly diverse Wekiva River Basin. Please join us and let your voice be heard!
CEJ director Patricia Siemen and CEJ staff attorney Rob Williams submitted comments last fall to Richard Hicks, P.G. of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on the Draft TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) for Rainbow Springs. They challenged the DEP’s reliance on a 2008 change-point study analysis alone (rather than a “weight of the evidence” approach), noting that the Rainbow and Silver Rivers are not blackwater rivers like the Suwannee; that the Suwannee River data may be subject to confounding variables due to hydrological change; that the change-point analysis is not the best fit for the data; and that the boot-strapping methodology of the change-point analysis is not reliable because of the small sample size.
They also challenged the influence of the “stake holders” in the TMDL and BMAP process, pointing out that the “stake holders” are most likely to be agricultural interests, builders associations, fertilizer companies, and others whose interests lie in protecting the status quo and their own economic bottom lines. In other words, the polluters are well represented in the process, while the people and other species that rely on the Wekiva Basin for their survival are underrepresented.
Siemen and Williams called for a new approach to protection and restoration, rather than the current process, because it seems “all too likely that the Department is going to take years to come up with a plan which will take decades to achieve a nitrate level which is probably too high to begin with.”
From the text of the letter:
We think the public deserves to be told the truth about the threat to the springs. Years ago the public was promised that the Department would give Rainbow Springs “the highest level of protection” and would not permit any degradation in its water quality.
. . .
The reality is something different. The causes of the algae growth in our springs are not well-understood; it is highly likely that it is multi-causal with high nitrate levels and low slows being the primary, but not, perhaps, the only causes of the imbalance. There is little evidence which suggests that the springs will be restored to their former state even if the target were met. The Department has not taken a conservative approach, but rather has been led by pressure from agribusiness interests to adopt the least protective standard suggested by the scientific evidence. There is no margin of safety: the Department has decided to err on the side of the polluters rather than on the side of protecting the spring.
. . .
Our springs are on life support – they can’t wait decades for a solution. We need a new approach and we need it now.
Read Appendix A here (Change Point Analysis of the Suwannee River Algal Data by Dr. X. Niu, 2007).
Read Appendix B here (Professor Niu’s full report).
Upcoming CEJ EventsSister Pat Siemen: Advancing Rights/Rites of Ecosystems
May 17, 2013 ~ 12:50 p.m.
During the Florida Native Plant Society 2013 Convention, themed Celebrating La Florida, The Land of Flowers
University of North Florida
Read more details here.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~Sister Pat Siemen: Awakening to Earth's Rights: Transformative Shift
May 26, 2013 ~ 10:30 a.m.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Augustine
St. Augustine, FL
Contact: (904) 471-2047
~ ~ ~ ~ ~Sister Pat Siemen: Planting Seeds of Earth Jurisprudence
June 4, 2013 ~ 7:00 p.m.
Tarflower Chapter, Florida Native Plant Society
Other Upcoming EventsJohn Moran: Springs Eternal: Florida's Fragile Fountains of Youth
March 23 - December 15, 2013
Photographs from the recent and distant past combine with contemporary views to create a then-and-now narrative of Florida's springs.
Florida Museum of Natural History
Contact: (352) 373-9718
Read more details here and please visit
John Moran's website.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~Florida Native Plant Society: Celebrating La Florida, the Land of Flowers
May 16 - 19, 2013
University of North Florida
Read more details here.
Learning to See Naturally ~ Nature Journaling WorkshopsVisit our nature journaling blog, Learning to See Naturally, for poems, photos, stories and other nature-inspired creative works from our workshop participants.
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- Agriculture and Livestock Remain Major Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions May 8, 2013