As a water lover and every day water user, there are many things you can do to change the fate of our springs! Our voice and our actions have more of an impact than you might think. An upwelling of outdoor enthusiasts, spring activists, concerned citizens, and young leaders are taking a stand together against the pollution and degradation of springs. All it took was one person standing up and being brave enough to fight for their natural world. The rest of us follow with a strong mutual appreciation for our natural world and a common belief that our state is a better place with it’s springs flowing clean and strong. From easy lifestyle changes, to taking a brave stand against political injustice…
Together, We CAN Change the Fate of Florida's Springs.
Wait! Before you continue reading, have you checked out the Springs 101 Guide? This guide includes all sorts of important information that will help you along your journey to becoming a springs steward.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Noah Valenstein, enjoying paddle on the Santa Fe River in High Springs, FL. This trip was a citizen organized initiative which aimed to connect political leaders with the beauty of Florida’s springs.
Photo by John Moran
A few steps you can take to #SaveOurSprings
Reduce Your Water Use
1. Check to see if your plumbing has any leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you have a leak.
2. Often, toilets have quiet leaks. To find out if your toilet is leaking, add a little food coloring to the tank. If the color appears in the bowl 30 minutes later, your toilet is leaking.
3. Upgrade toilets and install low-volume toilets that use half the water of older models.
4. Every drop counts, so turn off the faucet! Don’t let the water run while doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face and hands.
5. Take shorter showers. You can save several gallons for every minute saved in the shower. Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low flow model. They’re easy to install.
6. Install aerators on all household faucets; they slow the flow of water.
7. Reuse water. Catch water while you shower and use it to water plants. Try the same technique when washing vegetables or rinsing dishes. Use rain barrels to capture and store rainwater to water plants.
8. Ensure that your septic tank and drain field are properly maintained. More on septic maintenance below.
9. Do not over-water your lawn. Use a rain gauge to determine when and if you need to water. Follow irrigation laws. Never water your lawn during the heat of the day when water easily evaporates, or during rainy season when your lawn is already receiving enough water.
10. Speak with your Homeowners Association about adopting a Florida Friendly Landscaping program for your nieghborhood.
Grow Native & Cut the Chemicals
1. Learn how you to transition to a Florida Friendly Yard. Florida friendly landscaping can save money, time, effort, and reduce your water and nutrient footprint. Plant native or drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, ground cover and flowers to minimize water use. Native plants will also attract desirable wildlife like butterflies and hummingbirds. Find out what plants are best for your part of the state here. The Florida Friendly Landscaping Program is funded by University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).
2. Join your local Native Plant Society chapter to learn about Florida native plant landscaping and connect with others like you who are taking a responsible step towards water stewardship.
2. With the correct grass seed mix and native plants, we can completely avoid the need and added cost of fertilizers. If you must use fertilizers, use only slow release varieties for residential lawns and gardens. Avoid harsh chemicals such as Be sure to have a soil test done to determine if fertilizers are even necessary in your region.
3. Resist the temptation to over-fertilize. Applying twice as much as fertilizer as is recommended does not make plants grow twice as fast. Read the Florida Friendly Fertilizing Guide.
4. Do not over-water your lawn. Use a rain gauge to determine when and if you need to water. Follow irrigation laws. Never water your lawn during the heat of the day when water easily evaporates, or during rainy season when your lawn is already receiving enough water.
5. Only use pesticides if absolutely necessary and apply them only to the affected plants or area of lawn. A reminder, native Florida plants are naturally more resistant to pests.
6. Use mulch in plant beds and leave grass clippings on the lawn after mowing. Mulching helps prevent evaporation of moisture from the soil.
Septic System Inspections & The 3Ps
- Only flush the 3Ps: Paper, Poo and Pee! EVERYTHING else belongs in the trash, including “flushable” wipes.
2. As a homeowner, it is YOUR responsibility to maintain your septic system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends septic systems be inspected every 1 to 3 years. While this is recommended, most Florida residents remain unaware of their responsibility. Only about 100,000 septic tanks in Florida are inspected/pumped yearly…out of 30% of our population.
3. Find out if you qualify for FDEPs Septic Upgrade Incentive Program. This program is for owners of existing, conventional septic systems to help pay for a repair or modification that adds advanced features to reduce nitrogen pollution. Incentives only are available in designated areas, called Priority Focus Areas, within nine counties of Florida. See if you live in one of those nine counties here!
Get Involved with Organizations Fighting for Change
Non-Profit Organizations working to protect springs statewide
Talk With Your Representatives
2. More often than not, representatives are unaware or misinformed about the threats facing our springs, and what they can do to protect them. If it’s our job to speak up for our wants, needs, and expectations. Approach them with a positive attitude and educate them the best that you can.
3. Calling or scheduling a group meeting with your state representative tends to be more effective than emailing or sending a mailed letter.
4. Be prepared to make a strong argument. If you’re not confident that you can communicate your issue clearly, try inviting a springs expert or someone who knows a bit more about springs than you. The Florida Springs Council is a great resource for information/guidance on springs and water policy as well. Or instead, invite a few friends, a family member, or a colleague who shares your concern and lives in the same district as you.
5. Find common ground, politicians are people too. It’s much easier and more rewarding to communicate over a difficult issue when you can find common ground to walk. Does your representative enjoy visits to the springs too? What about wildlife watching or fishing? Find any common interest you may have in restoring the resource.
6. If your health, well-being, or wallet is being affected by poor water quality, tell them HOW. Bring evidence such lab results, photos, or short videos of the state of your water.
7. If the issue is of pressing concern and enough people have brought the issue to their attention, they will be motivated to take action on the issue.
Stay Informed & Share Your Knowledge!
1. Get involved in local planning and land use issues to Your voice counts!
2. Encourage and support the county and city leaders to make stormwater and land use decisions that will safeguard the groundwater flowing to our springs.
3. Support your water management district in protecting groundwater.
4. Help teach others about groundwater issues and responsible landscaping. Volunteer and become an advocate for a spring.
5. The next time you visit a spring with your friends, family, especially your children, explain the importance of protecting these beautiful natural resources.
6. Encourage schools and teachers to educate their students about protecting our natural resources. Share this website and its many teacher resources.
1. Learn who your legislators and representatives are. Keep up to date on current policies and upcoming policy changes. Get involved in the political process. Find representatives in your party who vow to protecting our water and natural resources. Find people and organizations to learn from. Don’t be afraid to talk politics when it comes to protecting our natural resources.
2. We recommend connecting with the Florida Springs Council, Florida Conservation Voters, or other non-partisan groups/organizations working to educate the public about natural resource management and policy, holding elected officials accountable, and helping Floridians elect the public officials who will enact sound policies for our natural lands and water .
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