The St. Johns River Water Management District just finished its latest scientific assessment of Silver Springs and the Silver River — a “minimum flows and levels” study aimed at determining just how low the springs/river level could go before experiencing significant environmental harm. It is an important and useful measure of the springs’ and river’s health, and its results could play a key role in the water district’s Adena Springs Ranch water permit decision.
The problem is, MFLs were mandated by the Legislature 41 years ago. While it’s good that SJRWMD has calculated Silver Springs’ MFL, the springs/river already are experiencing significant environmental harm. Nitrate overload is causing algae blooms. The spring flow is two-thirds its historical levels. The fish population is down more than 90 percent. The clarity of the water can no longer be described as “crystal.” Invasive plants are overtaking the shorelines.
In short, at their worst, the findings of the Silver Springs MFL study, which is being peer reviewed, could hardly make things much worse.