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Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration
PO Box 350
Inglis, FL 34449

Mission Statement

To implement civic action to promote the common good of residents of the community with a focus on public awareness and responsible stewardship of regional water resources; the basis for all the natural systems that define Florida's Nature Coast.

River Committee

Today the Lower River is on the Integrated Water Quality Assessment (305b) list of Impaired Waters (303d) as are an additional 26 segments of the Withlacoochee River.  We are involved with numerous organizations in a struggle to correct this matter, among them is Florida Defenders of the Environment and the University of Florida Conservation Clinic and Water Clinic.


The organization has been involved with staff from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) with the technical review of the Minimum Flows and Levels determination presently underway for the Withlacoochee River.  In conjunction with that we have engaged the District over the Regional Water Plan.  This process is required by Florida Statute but we consider the mandated time span of 20 years to be inadequate and we object to continued reliance upon ground water for public water supply due to the adverse impact this has on spring flow volume.

We have submitted a proposal to impound the Cross Florida Barge Canal to SWFWMD, the Citrus Waterways Restoration Task Force and the Withlacoochee Regional Water Supply Authority, the purpose of which is to provide for public water supply on a regional basis that will not adversely impact springs and the Lower Withlacoochee River.  This proposal will allow for partial restoration of system flows to the Lower River which were reduced by approximately 30% by the construction of the Barge Canal.  This proposal was adopted by the Water Supply Authority as a future alternative water supply source.  Development of this project is ongoing with regulatory agencies and boards with jurisdiction.

In 2007  many residents along the Withlacoochee below Lake Rousseau noted significant kills of native plants, invertebrates, and declines in fish activity. The River Task Force (now 'Committee') was created to address the problem and to express our deep concern regarding the ongoing herbicide applications in Lake Rousseau managed by the State.

In 2010 the 6th District Federal Court ruled in a suit brought by another party that herbicides were a pollutant and thus regulated by the Clean Water Act. This ruling stands after the Supreme Court refused to review the case and thus applications of herbicides require and NPDES permit and state regulators must develop Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) criteria for each herbicide used in its waters.  Our organization's review of this issue is ongoing.
 
 

 In 2007 and 2008 many residents along the Withlacoochee below Lake Rousseau noted significant kills of native plants, invertebrates, and declines in fish activity. The River Task Force was created to address the problem and to express our deep concern regarding the ongoing herbicide applications in Lake Rousseau managed by the Bureau of Invasive Plant Management. A document entitled "Lake Rousseau Herbicide Impact on the Lower Withlacoochee River and Estuary" was created and presented to local, State and Federal officials questioning the advisability and legality of introducing toxic herbicides into the tidal reaches of the lower river and the apparent non-compliance with EPA restrictions on such activities.

  

Nutrient Levels in our Florida Springs     

  Why is it Important To Our River

By John Fuchs

 

When it comes to Florida all things water seem to be connected. Let’s apply that to our environment here on the Lower Withlacoochee River.  During our January 25 general membership meeting we were privileged to have Dr. Robert Knight as a speaker.  Dr. Knight is an expert on the health of the Florida springs with specific emphasis on nutrients.  Dr. Knight reviewed nitrate levels in the water of our local springs.  At the top of the list was the Rainbow Spring and Rainbow River with almost 2mg/L.  Springs not receiving nitrogen contamination would be expected to have around .5 mg/L.  This excess nitrogen provides fertilizer that supercharges plant growth and as well as a type of undesirable algae.  The immediate concern is the spring area where the algae can take over and eliminate the original plant species.  In fact this is taking place in many Florida Springs with high nitrate levels.
 
So how does this relate to our problem here on the Lower Withlacoochee.  Most of you know that the Rainbow River empties into Lake Rousseau not too far upstream from the spillway.  Here it mixes with the water from the Withlacoochee River.  Guess what happens.  That’s right, accelerated plant growth particularly species like hydrilla.  The fact that the lake is wide in this area provides lots of retention time for the fertilizer to do its job.   It’s the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife, Invasive Species Bureau to the rescue with their toxic chemical brew of herbicides.  Pump in a little of this and a lot of that and we can kill anything that grows. No problem.
 
They’re right they can and do kill everything that grows just to clear the lake.  As I mentioned before this” kill zone” is the western end of the Lake just prior to the spillway into our River.  Here comes the herbicide up and over the spillway into our River ready for action.  Do we have any plants growing on the bottom of our River?  None that I can find.  Do you think there might be a relationship between the toxic herbicides and lack of plant life? You bet.
 
Point is that we need to be very concerned and supportive of efforts to reduce nitrate levels in Rainbow Spring and the Rainbow River.  We are uniquely tied to this issue.