The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is required to adopt plans for cleaning up nitrogen and other pollution in 30 of Florida's springs. These plans are called "BMAPs", or Basin Management Action Plans.
One of FSC's primary missions is to bring together member organizations to collectively monitor these processes and ensure that such plans are adequate. When these plans were published last year, FSC determined that the BMAPs for those springs, if approved, will not in fact lead to a satisfactory or timely restoration of water quality as required by law.
And so, on November 12, 2019, FIVE of these plans will go before a judge in Tallahassee, challenged by SEVEN springs organizations working together under the coordination of the Florida Springs Council: Ichetucknee Alliance, Our Santa Fe River, Save the Manatee Club, the Suwannee-St.Johns Group Sierra Club, Silver Springs Alliance, Rainbow River Conservation, and the Friends of the Wekiva River.
These groups are joined by a number of private individuals.
A SPRINGS LAW HISTORY LESSON:
In 2016 the legislature passed the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act. Under this law, a BMAP must be established anytime a Florida Outstanding Spring is found to be impaired by pollutants. The BMAP must identify sources of the pollution and make plans for corrective action.
This sounds good, but at the time FSC and other environmental groups opposed the bill, citing a history of BMAPs as unsuccessful in addressing water quality.
The final round of springs BMAPs were published in July of 2018. The plans failed to hold polluters accountable, failed to use accurate data, and failed to provide any real plans to restore the springs. FSC and its member organizations had followed the process, worked with agencies, and provided feedback. But only minor changes were made to the BMAPs and they remained "plans to fail".
So in January of 2019 we made the decision to go forward with this legal challenge.
If you would like to dig deeper into this course of events, the best single overview is the Orlando Sentinel's coverage.
Be sure to follow our facebook page and subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news on this legal battle for the future of our springs.
The actual filed petitions to all five legal challenges can be found HERE.
Dates: November 12 - 22nd 2019
Time: Begins daily at 9am
Place: Department of Administrative Hearings, DeSoto Building, 1230 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee
Judge: Francine M. Ffolkes
Consider becoming a member of the Florida Springs Council. Your support would help with this legal challenge as well as support our ongoing work. Last year, the 2019 legislative session was a disappointing one for Florida's water, as not one bill addressing Florida's water woes even made it to the governor's desk. We are already working hard to make sure that doesn't happen again and will be in Tallahassee advocating for the springs in the coming months. Your membership makes that possible.