Manatee Springs is designated as an Outstanding Florida Spring flowing at the first magnitude level in Levy County. Manatee Springs State Park is in the Suwannee River Water Management District and is the first spring on the Suwannee River upstream of where it enters the Gulf of Mexico. It is a popular stop for manatees in the winter months. It remains above most floodwaters in the rainy season due to its high flow rate and location several hundred feet off the Suwannee River. Drawing on a deep and powerful cave system, Manatee Spring historically held “a lucid sea green color…throwing up small particles or pieces of white shells,” according to early European accounts. Today the headspring suffers from elevated nitrate levels, which promote dense algae growth. Despite Manatee’s impaired state, many divers frequent the nearby Catfish Hotel sinkhole, which provides easy access to a cave system renowned for its strong flow and challenging conditions.
In 2016, the Florida Legislature passed the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act.
Manatee Springs is currently one of the twenty four Outstanding Florida Springs or Springs Groups that is considered “impaired”.
The following images were provided courtesy of the State Archives of Florida. This incredible photographic library provides a window into the historic spring landscape, documenting changing spring and surface water levels, as well as human use and development in this special location.
This is the location for access to data related to this spring. Below, you will find links to reports, data, as well as maps and information from the Florida Springs Institute’s Blue Water Audit project about this particular spring or spring group.
The Blue Water Audit is a tool developed by the Florida Springs Institute to estimate and visualize the impact of human activities on the Floridan Aquifer. Using existing data from a variety of sources, the Blue Water Audit estimates nitrogen loading and groundwater withdrawals for the Florida Springs Region. These estimates are used to assign Aquifer Footprints – a Floridan Aquifer Nitrogen Footprint (water quality) and a Floridan Aquifer Groundwater Footprint (water quantity). Below are maps of the Blue Water Audit Floridan Aquifer Nitrogen footprint for the Manatee Springs springshed within the Suwannee River Water Management District, as well as a map of the land use within the Manatee Springs springshed. To find out more about the Blue Water Audit project and to learn how this tool was developed, visit Blue Water Audit.
DATA AND REPORTS
The Interactive Florida Springs Atlas was produced with generous support from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida. The Community Foundation of North Central Florida supported this project through generous support for our Blue Water Audit project.