Meeting the Requirements of the Springs and Aquifer Protection Act
In 2016, the Florida Legislature identified 30 "Outstanding Florida Springs" that require additional protections to ensure their conservation and restoration for future generations. These protections are included in water quality restoration plans, known as Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs). These plans are focused on reducing nitrogen pollution that is impacting the water quality of these springs.
The legislation requires each BMAP to identify the sources of nitrogen pollution within the springshed, and to include projects and strategies that will achieve the reductions needed to improve water quality in the region. Thirty springs are named as Outstanding Florida Springs by this legislation. Through the DEP’s ongoing assessment efforts, 24 of these springs have been found to have excess levels of nitrogen pollution, particularly nitrate. Sources of nitrogen in these systems can include wastewater, water from septic tanks, stormwater runoff, and fertilizer runoff from both urban and agricultural lands.
DEP worked with stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive nutrient source inventory and used the inventories to identify the projects and strategies needed to address these sources and achieve the required nitrogen reductions. Nitrogen from agricultural sources and septic tanks has a greater impact on some springs than others, so the BMAPs contain a tailored mix of strategies.
As a result of the 1st District Court of Appeals’ ruling, the 2018 final orders for the Santa Fe River, Silver Springs and Upper Silver River and Rainbow Spring Group and Rainbow River, Suwannee River, and Volusia Blue Spring BMAPs were reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Consequently, the following BMAPs are now currently in effect: 2012 Santa Fe River Basin, 2015 Rainbow Spring Group and Rainbow River, 2015 Silver Springs and Upper Silver River and 2016 Lower and Middle Suwannee River Basin. The Volusia Blue Spring BMAP is under development. For the effective dates for the remaining springs BMAPs, please refer to the table of Adopted BMAPs.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.