Florida, Land of 1,000 Springs by Robert L. Knight
Florida has the greatest assemblage of artesian springs in the world, with over 1,000 springs documented to-date. Florida also has the largest number of first-magnitude springs (33 counting river rises) with historic average flows exceeding about 65 million gallons per day, and the largest individual spring groups with flows over 500 million gallons of groundwater per day (Figure 1). The largest of these springs and spring groups are well known - Silver, Wakulla, Ichetucknee, Weeki Wachee, Homosassa, Rainbow, Crystal, Manatee, Blue, Wekiwa, etc. - and almost every Floridian remembers the first spring they visited and when that visit occurred [read more].
High Springs, Florida
Located on the Santa Fe River in High Springs, Florida, Ginnie Springs is one of the clearest springs in Florida. The 72-degree water is perfect for river tubing, swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
Under the surface is a spectacular underwater world with huge grottos, colorful fish, and millions of gallons of fresh water gushing from the Floridan Aquifer. The 7 natural springs of Ginnie Springs Outdoors provides some of the best Florida scuba diving, and PADI certification and training around.
Ginnie Springs Outdoors is privately owned and has been in business since 1976. It is a world-renowned dive destination and campground located just outside of High Springs in Florida. Ginnie Springs receives no state or federal funding. You must be 18 or over to register for camping. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Postcard of Glen Spring Pool, taken from the George A. Smathers Library at the University of Florida
Glen Springs is located behind the Elks Lodge on N.W. 23rd Avenue in
During the past thirty years, Glen Springs has been used primarily as a swimming pool,
To follow the community effort to restore this urban spring, check out the FROGS! (Friends of Glen Springs).
Fort White, Florida
The Ichetucknee River, located in Florida’s Springs Heartland, is formed by the cumulative groundwater discharge from nine named artesian springs. From upstream to downstream the named springs include: Ichetucknee (Head Spring), Cedar Head, Blue Hole (Jug), Mission Group (Roaring and Singing), Devil’s Eye, Grassy Hole, Mill Pond and Coffee. Of these named springs, Blue Hole has the largest discharge.
Agricultural and urban activities have been linked to declining groundwater levels, lower spring discharge rates and rising concentrations of nitrate nitrogen at Ichetucknee Springs and River (collectively referred to as “the Ichetucknee System”). Consequently, serious signs of degradation are increasingly observed in the springs and spring run.
Experience a trip down the Ichetucknee in Following the Ichetucknee.
Kings Bay Springs
Photo by Ron Falzone
Crystal River, Florida
Kings Bay contains approximately 30 springs with an historic discharge over 600 million gallons per day. The Kings Bay springs also provide an important winter warm-water refuge for Florida manatees. The spring system is affected by increased salinity, falling groundwater levels, reduced flow, elevated nitrate nitrogen concentrations, and has shown increasing signs of biological impairment.
The mission of the Kings Bay Springs Alliance is to help conserve, protect, and restore the Kings Bay/Crystal River springs ecosystems through education, outreach, and advocacy. The Kings Bay Springs Alliance recognizes that the groundwater supply of Citrus County is finite and vulnerable to overuse and pollution due to human activity. It is also the goal of Kings Bay Springs Alliance to ensure the sustainability (quantity and quality) of the Floridan Aquifer System, the primary source of water that nourishes Kings Bay. To accomplish these goals, the Kings Bay Springs Alliance advocates for actions that provide for long-term maintenance of a healthy Kings Bay, Crystal river, and contributing area of the Floridan Aquifer.
For more information about local efforts to improve the health of Kings Bay, check out the Kings Bay Springs Alliance.
Rainbow Springs consists of twelve named vents that discharge groundwater from the Floridan Aquifer System at a combined historic average discharge of more than 485 million gallons per day (MGD), making it one of the largest first magnitude spring systems in Florida. The springs discharge into the Rainbow River, which flows south to the Withlacoochee River.
The head spring and a large portion of the eastern bank of the Rainbow River are located within 1,470-acre Rainbow Springs State Park, and are managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The state park attracts over 260,000 visitors annually, making it a major tourist attraction in Marion County. Additionally, the Marion County Parks and Recreation Department manages the K.P. Hole County Park, located on the west bank of the Rainbow River, which is enjoyed by an additional 70,000 visitors each year.
The Rainbow Springs System has received regulatory protections including recognition as a National Natural Landmark, designation as an Outstanding Florida Water, inclusion in a Florida Aquatic Preserve, and State Park status. In spite of these regulatory safeguards, the Rainbow Springs System has experienced significant degradation during the last half century from agricultural, urban, and industrial development in the surrounding springshed. These land use changes include groundwater withdrawals, use of nitrogen fertilizers, and animal and human wastewater disposal.
Rainbow River Conservation, Inc. is a citizen-supported organization with the goal of protecting and preserving water quality, the natural beauty, the riverbed, and the floodplains of the Rainbow River.They pursue this mission through education, conservation, stewardship, and advocacy.
Santa Fe Springs
High Springs, Florida
The Santa Fe River, located in the Springs Heartland of north central Florida, is the discharge point for at least 36 named springs. As a natural resource and popular recreational destination, these springs are pivotal for the economic and environmental health of a seven-county area populated by over 700,000 residents.
The Santa Fe River Springs Basin Working Group, organized in 1998, has raised awareness of the threats to the Santa Fe River and its springs. This awareness is helping the public understand the continuing decline of these springs and the Floridan Aquifer system upon which the springs depend for clean and abundant water. It is through public awareness that the health of the springs, the Santa Fe River, and the Floridan Aquifer can begin to recover. The Sante Fe River Springs Protection Forum meets quarterly. If you have an interest in this spring system, you will enjoy their website.
FSI Advisory Panel Member Lars Anderson has composed an Essay on on the Santa Fe River and Springs.
Silver Springs, Florida
Silver Springs, located east of Ocala in Marion County, is comprised of at least 25 named artesian springs. A first magnitude collection of springs, Silver Springs forms the headwaters of the
Silver River. These springs receive groundwater from a springshed of roughly 1,360 square miles. The Silver River flows east for about 5.5 miles, where it converges with the Ocklawaha River. Silver Springs was historically the largest spring in Florida with respect to flow volume until about 1985 when the flow began a continuous decline. Silver Springs no longer produces the highest volume of flow and is now designated as one of the most endangered large springs in the state.
In 2012, the Silver Springs Alliance, a nonprofit citizens' initiative, was founded to ensure the protection of a healthy ecosystem at Silver Springs for future generations. In 2013, the St. Johns River Water Management District launched its effort to set minimum flows and levels ("MFLs") for Silver Springs and Silver River. The Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute has been following the development of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Springs Protection Initiative.
In August 2014, with financial support from the Protect Florida Springs Tag Grant Program and the Felburn Foundation, the Florida Springs Institute released an Action Plan for restoring Silver Springs to highlight current environmental issues and to provide recommendations for future best management practices in and around the springshed. The full Action Plan and supplemental Executive Summary can be viewed here.
Wakulla Springs, Florida
Wakulla Spring is located in Wakulla County about 14 miles south of the state capitol in Tallahassee and 14 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. Wakulla Spring has the highest measured instantaneous flow of any spring in Florida, the largest spring basin in terms of depth and volume, and provides the source of water for the Wakulla River.
Wakulla Spring is the focal point for the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, where about 200,000 people visit Wakulla Spring each year, contributing over $9 million per year in direct economic benefits and supporting more than 185 local jobs. Wakulla Spring has been impacted for over 100 years by human activities occurring in its springshed.
If you are interested in helping to protect and restore Wakulla Springs, consider joining the Wakulla Springs Alliance.