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Silver Springs & River BMAP, 2024 update

*Silver Springs shares a BMAP with Rainbow Springs, but here we break out information for each individually.

When DEP released its updates to Springs BMAPs in 2024, the Florida Springs Council dug into the updated data to answer three questions:

1. Where is the nitrogen pollution coming from for this springshed?

2. What is the difference in pollution levels in this springshed since the 2018 BMAPs were adopted?

3. How is it going? That is, has this BMAP been successful so far, and where has the 2018 BMAP put this springshed on its path to restoration?


Sources of Nitrogen Pollution in Silver Springs and River

The largest contributor of nitrogen pollution to Silver is septic tanks at 33%, followed by agriculture at nearly 30%.

Urban and sports fertilizer is also a notable contributor at a combined 27% - urban fertilizer has increased dramatically since the 2018 data.

OSTDS = Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems - septic tanks

Atmo. Dep. = Atmospheric Deposition. This comes from the air or rainfall and is not a source that can be reduced.

Agricultural sources (livestock, dairies, farm fertilizers, nurseries) are in shades of green.

Development/urban sources (urban and sports fertilizers wastewater and septics) are in shades of yellow and orange.


The difference in pollution levels and required nitrogen reduction since the 2018 BMAPs were adopted

Even though nitrogen pollution measured at spring vents at Silver Springs has increased by 150,000 pounds per year since 2018, Silver has seen an increase in flow, and more water can handle more pollution. This led to a slight decrease the overall percentage of nitrogen reduction required even though total pounds of pollution has increased.

Pounds per year of nitrogen at the spring vents - data are based on DEP's actual measurements.


How is it going?

Rather than decreasing, nitrogen levels have increased at Silver Springs.

The first black dot at 2018 is based on actual data, how much pollution was measured at the spring vent when the 2018 BMAP went into effect.

The next two dots show how things are going right now.

  • The white dot at 2023 shows where the 2018 BMAP should have gotten us. The white line shows the pollution level goals established by the 2018 BMAP, with reductions in nitrogen levels over the next 20 years to reach water quality goals in 2038.

  • The second black dot shows where pollution levels actually are. For Silver, total pounds of nitrogen measured at the spring vent has increased.

DEP's goal for 2018 was to reduce nitrogen in Silver Springs and River. Instead, it increased, putting Silver further behind, with less time left to reach water quality goals by 2038 as required by law.

DEP's new goal for 2028 is at a level that is more polluted than their original missed goal for 2023.

TMDL = Total Maximum Daily Load. That is the water water quality goal - the level of nitrogen coming from the spring vent at which the spring system will no longer experience ecological harm.

Why is the TMDL, or water quality goal, set higher for 2024? Increased rainfall/increased flow since the 2018 BMAPs means that more total pounds of nitrogen can be measured at the spring vent while the overall concentration in the water remains the same.


Watch this three-minute excerpt from our live discussion on the Springs BMAP updates to walk through this information with FSC director Ryan Smart:


For a deeper understanding of the BMAP updates, watch Executive Director Ryan Smart explain this analysis in a one-hour "Springs BMAPs - Live Discussion" video, found at

Questions about these graphs and the Springs BMAP update process? Email 


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