$2.3 million in state funds coming to Columbia County to protect springs

The Devil Spring on the bottom of the crystal clear Itchetucknee River.
The Devil Spring on the bottom of the crystal clear Itchetucknee River.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced that $50 million in state funds will go for more than 20 statewide springs restoration projects to aid the recovery and provide additional protection for Florida’s springs, including $2.3 million for projects originating in Columbia County.  

“Florida’s springs are among our most precious water resources,” said Chief Science Officer Dr. Tom Frazer. “They reflect the quality of our drinking water and nourish some of the most iconic surface waters in the state.”

 Florida springs provide a window into the state’s vast groundwater system and are a barometer of the condition of the primary source of drinking water. DEP and four Florida water management districts have identified a broad suite of projects that include land acquisition, septic to sewer conversion, and water quality improvement efforts, intended to increase aquifer recharge, improve spring flow, and protect downstream habitats all the way to the coast.

Many of the projects will benefit ongoing restoration efforts in springsheds. These restoration efforts reflect a collaborative effort with the department, water management districts, community leaders and local stakeholders. The contributions and cooperation of these agencies and individuals have been crucial throughout the development process. Combining and leveraging resources from various agencies across Florida allows for a more efficient and comprehensive restoration effort.

A total of more than $2.3 million will go for the acquisition of more than 3,600 acres of land to protect springs in Columbia County Grasslands (Ichetucknee Springs), Devil’s Ear Springs Recharge (Ginnie Springs Group), Santa Fe Springs and Sawdust Spring (Sawdust and Devil’s Ear springs). The acquisition of these lands will help improve aquifer recharge potential, enhance recreational opportunities and protect native species.

“As Florida’s Springs Heartland, it is critical for us to focus on the health of our springs and connect with our community partners to accomplish that effort. Funding these projects will help protect and restore our natural systems,” said Hugh Thomas, Executive Director of the Suwannee River Water Management District. “Thank you to Governor DeSantis, the Legislature and Florida Department of Environmental Protection for leading this initiative to protect our water resources.”

For more information on Florida’s spring restoration project funding, please visit www.floridadep.gov/springs/restoration-funding.

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