Bob Knight: Florida’s Springs, Aquifer, and Water Economy

IHMC Evening Lectures show

Summary: The Floridan Aquifer is one of the state’s most precious natural resources. Replenished by rainfall, the Floridan Aquifer is a finite, natural reservoir that underlies all of Florida. While the Floridan Aquifer contains the highest quality freshwater available in the state, much of it is filled with salt water and is not useable as a potable water supply. The freshwater portion of the aquifer is of inestimable value to Floridians in terms of wide-spread availability and minimal treatment costs. Pumping, transportation, reverse osmosis, and desalinization are from ten to hundreds times more expensive than local groundwater pumping. Florida’s five water management districts are tasked with the wise management of the state’s groundwater resources to protect the natural environment and to provide adequate water supplies for the human economy. Unfortunately, protection of the natural environment, including, springs, rivers, lakes, and wetlands has taken a back seat to providing free groundwater to for- profit enterprises. In the process, the Floridan Aquifer has been polluted and depleted. Multiple lines of research have determined that the cost to correct these mistakes may be in the many billions of dollars. Based on past experience, it is clear that prevention/protection efforts will be much less costly than continuing to diminish our water resources. Dr. Knight, is the founder and director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, a 501c(3) non-profit focused on supporting science and education necessary for restoration and wise management of Florida’s artesian springs. Dr. Knight is an environmental scientist with more than 38 years of professional experience in Florida, including detailed ecological studies at more than 20 large springs. He is former adjunct professor at the University of Florida Department of Environmental Engineering and Sciences where he taught graduate-level classes on the ecology of Florida’s springs and wetlands. Dr. Knight is currently active on research and restoration efforts at the Santa Fe River springs, Kings Bay/Crystal River springs, Ichetucknee Springs, Rainbow Springs, Wakulla Springs, Homosassa Springs, Glen Springs, springs of the Lower Suwannee River, and Silver Springs. Detailed restoration plans have been prepared for these springs, and Dr. Knight is actively working with similar efforts by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the relevant water management districts. Dr. Knight is also active with a number of springs advocacy groups around north Florida that help to educate local governmental officials about groundwater supply and springs protection.