2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM


KINCAID, Todd R., 505 S. Arlington Ave, Suite 203, Reno, NV 89509, SCHMIDT, Walt, Florida Geol Survey, Gunter Building MS #720, 903 W. Tennessee St, Tallahassee, FL 32304-7700, COOK, Sandy A., Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 550 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs, FL 32305, LOPER, David, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute, Florida State Univ, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4360, DAVIES, Gareth J., Cambrian Ground Water Co, 109 Dixie Lane, Oak Ridge, TN 37830 and MCKINLAY, Casey, Global Underwater Explorers, 15 South Main St, High Springs, FL 32643, Walt.Schmidt@dep.state.fl.us

Florida’s Wakulla Spring is a unique natural and cultural resource. It is the largest single-vent spring in Florida, and perhaps the world. The 37 m deep 60+ m wide spring vent regularly discharges more than 15 m3/s of water per day and at times exceeds 90 m3/s. Cave divers have explored more than 16 km of underwater cave passages that connect to the spring and average 10-80 m in diameter. The spring is the center piece for Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, which is regarded as the “Crown Jewel” of the Florida State Park system. Every year nearly 200,000 people visit the park to take glass bottom boat tours, observe alligators, birds, and fish in their natural setting, or simply swim in the crystal clear spring water.

Unfortunately, Wakulla spring is threatened from increased surface water runoff and nitrate contamination. Hydrilla verticillata and species of algae have nearly taken over the spring basin and the water clarity has diminished to the point where the glass bottom boats cannot run for months to years on end. Spring protection in Florida has received considerable attention in recent years, where numerous groups attack the problem from various angles. The problems at Wakulla have led to an exciting collaboration between state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private companies aimed at arresting the declines in quality, and protecting the spring for future generations.

The Hydrogeology Consortium, Florida Geological Survey, Global Underwater Explorers – Woodville Karst Plain Project, Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida State University, Hazlett-Kincaid, Inc., Cambrian Ground Water Co., and others have joined forces to conduct focused research to determine the causes for spring degradation, identify possible solutions and disseminate the resulting data and knowledge to the public and the key decision makers. The results to date have been groundbreaking accomplishments in instrumenting and characterizing the karst watershed, expanding community involvement, and increasing political awareness that land-use decisions can have a real and nearly immediate impact on spring water quality. The purpose of this talk is to demonstrate how the key component of these successes has been the collaborative nature of the endeavors. See www.hazlett-kincaid.com/FGS for further details.