Exploring Wakulla Springs

Do you know what's really in your drinking water? That's the question Florida biologists are trying to answer as they track water flows from Tallahassee to Wakulla Springs.

Taking a plunge into Wakulla Springs is one of Ricky Harden's favorite pastimes. “I've been coming here since I was five, but it used to be cleaner,” Ricky says.

An unbelievable statement when you look below, but biologists say Ricky is correct. That's because the spring's semi-clear water trickles down from Tallahassee.

Jim Stevenson, a retired DEP official, says,” One can consider a city in a spring basin as the 900-pound gorilla. What it does determines the health of the springs.”

Stevenson and his team of biologists are on a field trip. Their mission is to track the water's flow starting at storm water ponds like the one near FSU.

Russel Frydenborg, an environmental administrator for DEP, says, “Helps reduce pollutants associated with runoff including nutrients and metals to help protect downstream waters.”

As the water continues its path south it makes many stops. One is at the Leon sinks. Its final destination is Wakulla Springs, which many people say is one of north Florida's finest jewels, but it's one biologists fear will be tainted if residents up north don't keep pollutants from entering the ground.

Some helpful tips:

  • Use natural fertilizers on your lawn.

  • Don't allow oil or grease to run off from your driveway.

  • Maintain your septic systems properly.

Biologists say doing these small things keeps the springs looking crystal clear, something Ricky Harden wants to see. For more information on protecting Florida's aquifer you can attend a springs symposium this Thursday at the DEP building in Tallahassee.