Upcoming seminar to address Florida springs restoration

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By Abdon Sidibe

Dr. Bob Knight, president of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, plans to lay out the “big picture” state of what he calls the state’s “significantly impaired” springs.

Knight will be one of seven speakers at a daylong seminar titled “Restoring Our Coastal Springs” beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Plantation on Crystal River, 9301 W. Fort Island Trail. The other speakers are Harley Means from the Florida Geological Survey, Citrus County Commissioner Rebecca Bays, Rick Hicks of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Mark Hammond of the Southwest Florida Water Management District and John Moran and Lesley Gamble of the Springs Eternal Project.

“I am going to be talking about big-picture issues and I am looking at comprehensive restoration,” Knight said.

And, he said, unlike the representatives from the government agencies, he is not bound by the strictures of political policy in reporting the results of his findings.

He said his institute has been studying 12 major springs around the state including King’s Bay and found them significantly impaired.
Knight said his team found three main reasons for most of the impairment:

- Poor spring flow due to excessive groundwater use.

- Extremely high concentration of nitrates, which he blames on fertilizer and pollutant use in the spring sheds. Knight said 60 percent of the springs studied had concentrations well above the acceptable standard.

- Excessive recreation.

“Overall, I would give them a C to B grade,” Knight added.

“It’s going to take a comprehensive, holistic sort of plan to restore these springs to what they used to be,” he said.

Contact Chronicle reporter A.B. Sidibe at 352-564-2925 or asidibe@chronicleeonline.com