Silver Springs No Longer World's LargestSilver Springs Alliance, Inc.
February 21, 2014
Ocala—“Silver Springs is no longer the world’s biggest first magnitude spring,” Gainesville-based springs scientist, Dr. Bob Knight, announced today.
”And if drastic steps are not taken now to reverse the damage being done, the springs could stop flowing in the next twenty years.”
Knight’s remarks reflect the results of a recent report conducted by the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. Among other findings, the December 2013 study reveals that Florida’s fabled Silver Springs’ average water flow has declined by 44% since flow rates were first recorded.
The famous Florida landmark also continues to be polluted by rising levels of nitrate–nitrogen concentrations, according to the study. The main cause of the springs’ water flow decline is over pumping of the underground Floridan aquifer by farms, businesses, and residences, said Knight, who was the principal researcher of the study.
Meanwhile, the Silver Springs river basin is also being contaminated by fertilizers and pesticides
and seepage from tens of thousands of septic tanks. A previous study conducted by Knight indicated
Silver Springs’s fish population has declined 95 percent in the past forty years.
For more than a century, Silver Springs was a popular Florida attraction that drew millions of visitors worldwide. It was also the site for numerous underwater photo shoots for motion pictures, television programs, and commercials.
Tourism, however, dropped in recent decades because of degradation of the springs and increased competition from other Florida attractions. In late 2013, the attraction became a state park.
“Dr. Knight’s study underscores the urgency for action at the highest government levels,” said Andy Kesselring, president of the Silver Springs Alliance, an Ocala‐based, non‐profit organization that works to protect Silver Springs. “That’s why the alliance is urging state legislators to craft powerful springs and water protection legislation during this next legislative session.”
Meanwhile, the Florida Springs Institute study recommends that state agencies implement a comprehensive ecological monitoring program of the “overall health of the Silver Springs and Silver River ecosystem“ to help develop a plan for the restoration and protection for them.
“If we don’t invest now,” Knight said, “we may lose Silver Spring and other springs forever.”
To see the 2012‐2013 Silver Springs Ecosystem Study, go to the FSI website. http://floridaspringsinstitute.org/Silver
Contacts: Dr. Bob Knight (386) 462‐1003, Andy Kesselring (352) 622‐8899
Working to ensure the protection of a healthy ecosystem at Silver Springs for future generations.