Florida Springs Council challenges state over management of Rainbow Springs, other waters

Florida Springs Council members have filed administrative challenges to the state’s management of 15 impaired “Outstanding Florida Springs” and hundreds of related smaller springs across North and Central Florida.

Members filed separate challenges to five Department of Environmental Protection regional “Basin Management Action Plans.” The challenges contend that the plans fail to meet basic requirements, including identifying ways to meet state water-quality goals. “While the Basin Management Action Plans appear to represent substantial and impressive efforts, when analyzed more closely they are revealed to be just more smoke and mirrors,” said John Thomas, the lead attorney for the Florida Springs Council groups.

Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said in an email the petitions will be reviewed by the agency’s general counsel. If deemed sufficient, they will be forwarded to the Division of Administrative Hearings for a judge to be assigned and a hearing date, Miller said in the email.

In each of the challenges, the council members are petitioning to determine if management plans are inconsistent with state law, including whether the state is meeting requirements to adopt plans to restore 24 impaired natural springs. “There are a number of common defects in the plans, including questionable modeling, inadequate clean-up plans for septic tanks, failure to account for future growth, and failure to include legislatively mandated details about corrective projects,” a news release about the filing said.

The Ichetucknee Alliance, Our Santa Fe River, Ginnie Springs Outdoors and Jim Tatum of Fort White have filed a challenge over the management of the Santa Fe River. The Rainbow River Conservation, Inc. and Silver Springs Alliance are challenging the plan for Silver Springs and Rainbow Springs. The Sierra Club and Thomas Greenhalgh are contesting the Suwannee River plan. Save the Manatee Club has filed a challenge against the plan for Volusia Blue Spring. Friends of the Wekiva River are challenging the plans for the Wekiwa and Rock springs.

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