Education Center - Protecting Florida's Springs
Florida is home to more than 1,000 springs, representing what may be the largest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth.
Healthy springs support diverse and unique ecosystems, and strengthen local economies. Their flow can support rivers dependent on the spring’s clean, fresh water. Additionally, Florida’s springs offer many recreational opportunities such as swimming, kayaking and diving, attract visitors from all over the world and serve as economic drivers for our communities.
Florida's springs face various complex threats, including decreasing spring flows and excessive nutrients. Spring flows decrease because of declining water levels in the groundwater aquifer that sustains them, and excessive nutrients, mainly nitrate, can lead to algal growth and habit degradation. Florida is committed to investing in nitrate-reducing capital projects (wastewater, stormwater and nonpoint source pollution control projects) and water-quantity projects to protect and restore springs. In addition, Florida conserves and acquires land in spring recharge zones to prevent nitrate contamination.
Much has been done to date; however, there is more work to be done for springs restoration and long-term protection. All of the Outstanding Florida Springs – historic first-magnitude springs as well as De Leon, Peacock, Poe, Rock, Wekiwa and Gemini – that are impaired lie within areas covered by a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP).
Protecting Florida's Springs
In 2016, the Florida Legislature identified 30 Outstanding Florida Springs that require additional protections to ensure their conservation and restoration for future generations. These protections are outlined in water quality restoration plans, known as BMAPs.
A BMAP is a framework for water quality restoration that contains local and state commitments to reduce pollutant loading through current and future projects and strategies. These plans are focused on reducing nitrogen pollution impacting the water quality of these springs. In June 2018, DEP adopted 13 restoration plans, addressing all 24 nitrogen-impaired Outstanding Florida Springs. Eight of these plans are effective as of January 2019, while five others are pending the outcome of legal challenges.
Less than 48 hours after being sworn in, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order outlining his bold vision to protect water and natural resources, which are the foundation of Florida's communities, economy and way of life. The Executive Order directs strategic action with a focus on accountability, transparency and collaboration and includes a proposed $2.5 billion investment over the next four years. See Water Protection Grants to learn more about these funding opportunities.
On Sept. 18, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis announced $50 million for more than 20 statewide springs restoration projects to aid the recovery and provide additional protection for Florida’s springs. These projects work in concert with increased monitoring, enforcement, and other measures to ensure compliance with best management practices implemented under the Governor’s leadership to improve water quality across the state.
Outstanding Florida Springs BMAPs
The Florida Springs Basin Management Action Plans are developed with specific provisions for the protection and restoration of the state’s Outstanding Florida Springs. To learn more about the Outstanding Florida Springs' BMAPs currently in effect, visit the OFS Storymap button below. To learn more about all BMAPs, visit DEP's latest STAR Report or select All BMAPs button below.
Florida boasts perhaps the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world and they attract visitors from far and wide. Springs support entire ecosystems with unique assemblages of plants and animals and offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Springs restoration projects are intended to provide aquifer recharge, increase spring flow and improve water quality.
Visit a Spring
Springs offer visitors unsurpassed locations to swim, snorkel, scuba dive and observe wildlife. Learn about the wealth of recreational opportunities available at springs and locate a spring near you. Many springs are protected by our world-class state parks system. Visit one of our 20 state parks that is home to an iconic Florida spring.