Comprehensive Groundwater Sampling Needed



Contact: Dr. Robert Knight
Director, Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute

August 28, 2015

GAINESVILLE, FL – On Thursday, Dr. Robert Knight, Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute called for a comprehensive, area-wide groundwater nitrate sampling effort by state and local governments, especially in the karst areas of Alachua and Gilchrist counties. Dr. Knight’s call for action comes after the Alachua County Health Department released private, self-supply well nitrate data confirming the relatively common occurrence of nitrate above safe drinking water levels (10 mg/L) and the lower springs standard of 0.35 mg/L.

The Alachua County Department of Health has initiated additional sampling and nitrate testing of private wells in the area of the Watson Dairy in eastern Gilchrist County. “In our opinion,” stated Knight, “that does not go far enough considering the human and ecological health risks posed by these elevated pollutant concentrations…This sampling effort should be expedited and results need to be widely publicized so that local residents are aware of the risks they face and the alternatives they have to avoid those risks.”

Remarks from Whitey Markle:
Florida’s legislative delegation needs to be made to test ALL wells in the region for Nitrate overload. The delegation knows very well what we are asking for, but as many citizens as possible need to say it over and over. Until we get tough on them, they are going to continue to run over us. This is a serious health crisis. Instead of counting dollars, they need to actually spend some.
Dr. Knight has designed a 4 point strategy for dealing with the state and local agencies in this water war in his new book, The Silenced Springs:
“Past performance indicates that Florida’s paid governmental officials are not going to protect the commons (water) unless they are forced to do so. Four possible methods for changing this state of affairs appear to be: (1) appeal to their consciences; (2) embarrass them by publicizing their irrational decisions until they fulfill their obligations to protect the state’s water resources; (3)throw out the politicians who appointed Florida’s governmental environmental leaders; and (4) pursue solid and winning legal challenges.”
Dr.Knight continues:
(1) ….perhaps most employees of Florida’s environmental agencies are painfully aware of the causes of aquifer and spring degradation, but feel powerless to change the status quo. Fear of losing their job freezes the staff into immobility….(they) understand that fear is not a good excuse to ignore the consequences of their own actions or inactions. Just as the public has rallied together to promote environmental protection, public environmental staff should also join forces.
(2) …publicizing irrational decisions that officials have made in the name of protection is a tried and true method of changing their behavior. Exposing the fact that North and Central Florida’s water supply, the Floridan Aquifer, is dangerously low and polluted is an effective demonstration (of their ineffectiveness). Blaming the water deficit on lack of rainfall and, recently debatable merits of funding for springs (and aquifer) protection are good examples of irresponsible actions by water leaders. With enough public education about the facts and figures, a growing fraction of the public population is realizing that these convenient untruths have been used to hide the reality of the story.
(3) Of course it is not a single governor or a series of governors who have made hundreds of bad decisions……; it is the governor’s chief(s) of staff and advisors who are influenced by hundreds of industry (and municipal) lobbyists. An election may remove a single person from political power, but the problems more often are ingrained in a single political party (or) system of government that thrives on money spent by special interests that profit from governmental decisions.
(4) ….environmental organizations have a long record of turning to the courts to force the government to obey and enforce its own laws. While it is frustrating that the public has to use their money to protect their environment from the agencies that are paid by the public’s taxes, sometimes the courts are the only recourse available….”

So it should be obvious that more activism on every front is necessary to save our Florida water and environment. And, as always, more money. Perhaps our legislative representatives will soon begin to feel the urgency we do.