Florida’s natural springs are in distress. The evidence is seen through decreased spring flows, toxic algae growth, and a decrease in wildlife use in and around individual springs. A growing urban sprawl, booming population and an increased demand for groundwater has been negatively impacting spring health over the past decades. Yet, getting involved in springs conservation and making a real difference is as simple as making small changes to our daily habits.
1. Plant native or drought-tolerant vegetation.
Florida residents are no strangers to long periods of hot weather. By planting native vegetation on your property, you’ll be conserving water and helping springs since plants native to Florida typically require less water and fertilizers. You can further reduce your water consumption by watering your lawn in the early morning or evening hours -- or better still-- not at all. The less water we all use, the less strain on our natural springs.
2. Don’t let the water run!
All it takes is a little improvement on our old habits: Take shorter showers. Turn the faucet off between washing dishes or while brushing your teeth, and only turn it back on when you need to rinse. Over time, the amount of water you save will add up (and your water bill may even go down!)
3. Service your septic tank regularly.
It may not have much appeal but it’s quite possibly the most important one on the list. Nutrient run-off is a large contributing factor to chemical imbalances within springs and can often lead to unhealthy algae growth. It’s important to remember that these run-off sources aren’t limited to just golf courses and over-fertilized yards.
4. Write your local lawmakers in support of Florida Springs.
Sharpen your letter-writing skills and let your representative know what matters to their constituents. Bonus points for calling them!
5. Be a conscientious springs visitor.
Whenever visiting state parks and springs, be sure to stay on established trails, boardwalks and canoe launch ramps at all times. If snorkeling or swimming, take special care to avoid trampling underwater vegetation and stirring up sediments with your flippers. It's good practice to use extreme caution whenever boating and anchoring in spring runs; anchors, props and boat groundings can also destroy aquatic vegetation and increase the cloudiness of the water. Lastly, be sure to dispose of your litter into trash or recycling bins, or store it in a secure location to help prevent any from entering the environment.
6. Purchase a Protect Florida Springs license plate!
What better way to help our springs than to proudly display our support on a vehicle for all to see! Plus, proceeds from the plate sales provide funds for small grants which support ongoing community-based initiatives aimed at springs restoration, protection, and education throughout the state of Florida.
Remember, this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the ways you can help preserve Florida's natural springs. They're just a few examples of simple, environmentally-friendly habits that Floridians can get into the routine of practicing on a daily basis. But knowing that these habits will also reduce stress on Florida's springs system can help increase the likelihood you'll stick with them long term.
Convinced you should be taking action? Purchase a Protect Florida Springs specialty plate for your vehicle and help support springs conservation statewide.