Protecting and Restoring Wakulla Springs

rays-of-sun-sally-wardThere are two parts to protecting a spring. Protecting spring flow and protecting water quality. The simple solutions to both are use less water and reduce nitrate.

The Wakulla Springs Alliance goal is to protect spring flow that “the flow should be glass bottom boat tour clear (at least 75 feet) an average of six months a year, as it was from 1987-1993, and be maintained at an average of 400 million gallons per day. Water management tools such as water supply planning, wastewater treatment, minimum flows and levels, reservation, conservation, and water use permitting, should be used to achieve this goal.” The Northwest Florida Water Management District and the Department of Environmental Protection are the responsible agencies.

Springs love trees; lush lawns make them sick. The atmosphere continuously deposits nitrogen on your lawn. Don’t add more.

• Developers: Leave more trees; use less turf grass. Only use centipede grass.

• Homeowners: Use centipede grass because it doesn’t have to be fertilized. Plant native trees and shrubs because they don’t need fertilizer. Reduce the size of your lawn. Don’t use fertilizer.

• Local Governments and State Agencies: Do not use fertilizer on city, county and state properties, including road shoulders.

• Farmers: Are you wasting fertilizer and driving up costs? Test your soil annually before fertilizing to be certain of your needs.

• Fertilizer Industry: Demonstrate corporate responsibility. Educate customers about using fertilizer in an environmentally responsible manner.

The objective is to reduce the impact of stormwater on the groundwater in the basin.

• Support the City of Tallahassee, and Leon County programs to improve stormwater management. Encourage Wakulla County to implement a stormwater program.

• Keep pollutants, such as pesticides and fertilizer, out of stormwater run-off. Once pollutants are in the water it is very expensive to remove them. Eliminate, or at least reduce, the use of lawn fertilizers and pesticides.

• Keep your stormwater on your property. Create swales or Rain Gardens.

• Do not direct stormwater into sinkholes.

• See

Department of Transportation
• During the widening of Crawfordville Road, do not construct stormwater retention ponds in the vicinity of the caves near New Light Church Road and SR 267.

Septic Tanks
The objective is to reduce the amount of nitrates and other contaminants that reach the groundwater in the basin south of the Cody Scarp. See the Department of Health, Wekiva Basin Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal System Study Recommendations.

Here is a link to the septic tank conversion prioritization web map:

• Never use pesticides, toxic chemicals or ammonia that will be flushed into the septic tank.
• Never plant trees or shrubs on the drainfield.

• Have your septic tank and drainfield inspected and maintained at least every 5 years.

• Replace your septic tank with a nitrogen reducing system or connect to central sewer when available.

Counties and Tallahassee:
• Restrict housing to low density in the vulnerable portion of the basin south of the Cody Scarp.

• Extend central sewer lines to high density areas in vulnerable areas and require connections.

• Prohibit conventional septic tanks in close proximity to caves, karst windows and sinkholes.

Nitrate Treatment Levels
• Reduce nitrogen to at least 10 mg/l in septic tank discharge using advanced septic systems. Effluent should be discharged into shallow drip-irrigation drainfields.

Maintenance: Utility Operation and Management, Program Model 4
• Regional wastewater management entities should be established to oversee the maintenance of all wastewater discharged from septic tanks. Management entities should be responsible for implementing the Dept. of Health Model 4 management program. Funding for this program will be generated through user service fees, much the same as central sewer users pay a monthly sewer bill.

Tallahassee’s Wastewater
• Monitor more wells at the Smith Plant.

• Provide a quarterly report of monitoring well data available to the public.

• Increase the distribution and reuse “north” of the Cody Scarp.

• Southeast Sprayfield:
New sinkholes should be filled with clay to prevent rapid drainage to the aquifer.

• Plan to discharge some of the effluent at a future facility north of the Cody Scarp.

• Obtain funding for the above solutions.