are windows into the aquifer, which supplies our drinking water. They are also
a great reminder that our water resources are all connected. Many creeks go
into the aquifer via sinkholes, mix with groundwater, and later emerge at
springs and rivers. Wetlands filter water that will end up in the aquifer and help
protect springs and our drinking water.
Water quality, clarity,
and levels have been decreasing in many of our springs. Important factors to
protecting springs include reducing both nutrient loading and water use. Excess
nutrients often come from fertilizers (residential and agricultural), septic
systems, and wastewater treatment plants. This, coupled with reductions in
flow, can trigger unhealthy algal blooms in waterways.
We are all responsible
for protecting groundwater and springs, even if you don't live near a spring. Water
that soaks into the ground may travel through underground caves and small pore
spaces to springs miles away. We may be contributing to the lower water levels
at nearby springs when we use water to irrigate our lawns, wash our clothes and
dishes, etc. This is referred to as the springshed concept.
Check out one of our local springs at Poe
What Are We Doing?
To protect springs, it is essential to protect groundwater. Alachua
County has adopted and implemented several ordinances (fertilizer, irrigation,
stormwater, etc.) designed to protect our groundwater. ACEPD collects water
quality samples from a handful of private drinking water wells quarterly to
monitor trends in our region. We currently have grant funds to monitor and
restore submerged aquatic vegetation in Poe Springs and in the Santa Fe River.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection awarded ACEPD funds for
restoration efforts in Hornsby Spring including an examination of oxygen levels,
removal of algae, and re-vegetation. The Suwannee River Water Management
District has funded upgrades to the septic system at Poe Springs Park to reduce
Check out our monitoring page for data!
Local survey results suggest less than 50% of
participants know that the aquifer is the water source for our springs and for
our human water needs. Without knowledge of the human connection to the
aquifer, springs, and rivers, people may not understand how personal water
habits can influence these systems. In an effort to raise public awareness
about where our water comes from and to motivate water conservation in the
community, Alachua County has created a grant funded Aquifer Awareness campaign
with images and messaging found on billboards, buses, print media, and social
to view reports and maps on
our various efforts over the years.
- Discontinue the use of fertilizers and irrigation
- Plant native trees and
bushes instead of lawns
- Conserve water by mulching plants (get some free mulch from Alachua County Solid Waste!)
- Maintain your septic system or upgrade to a nutrient reducing system
- Re-use stormwater by using rain barrels, rain gardens, or other low-impact development (LID) techniques
- Support the acquisition of conservation lands
- Check out this Springs
Protection Brochure or Springs Friendly Landscaping Checklistfor more ideas
- Get involved with the Santa Fe Springs Protection Forums (see below)
Santa Fe Springs Protection Forums
ACEPD coordinates quarterly meetings where concerned citizens, government officials, and professionals discuss the issues and solutions to protecting our local
Click to see presentations and agendas.
Sinkholes can introduce untreated stormwater and pollution to our groundwater. Visit our reports page to learn about the 2005 Mill Creek and Lee Sinks dye tracer study. Report newly observed sinkholes to Natural Resources staff (352-264-6800) or fill out
If you are planning on installing a well and/or a septic tank system,
you must obtain a well and septic permit from the Alachua County Health
Department. There are different guidelines for drilling a well in Alachua County depending on which water management district you are in; please contact the appropriate district. A well registration form must be submitted to Alachua County.