One of the best parts of living in Suwannee County is the natural beauty that can be found all around us. The Suwannee River is at the heart of what makes this area unique. If you look at a map of Florida’s springs, the cluster of springs in and around Suwannee County are far more numerous than in other parts of our state. Florida has more artesian springs than any other place on the planet; more than a thousand have been cataloged so far. Our area has the highest concentration of those springs. If you have never visited one of these springs, now is the perfect time to go.
After a particularly wet fall and winter that flooded parts of the Suwannee River Basin, the rain has slowed down enough to allow the river level to fall into what I consider its normal range. The river is back down to the level that allows the clear, cool water from the springs to flow into the darker river water. Two great parks to visit that do not collect an entrance fee are located at Royal and Charles Springs. Both are running clear right now, and it is actually warm enough to consider taking an invigorating swim. A visit in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, would probably have you enjoying these natural wonders without any crowds.
If you have a boat, you could visit Telford Spring. It is also running clear right now. The river has fallen far enough to allow the springs to clear but not far enough to make navigation on the river treacherous. It won’t be long before the rocks will start to protrude from the water in unexpected places. Be sure you know where these rocks are located or find someone to go with you who can show you where they ruined their propellers.
Seeing our beautiful springs this weekend reminded me why it is important that we get a full and complete fracking ban passed in Florida. Fracking uses an almost unfathomable amount of water, and once this water is used for fracking it is no longer fit for human consumption. Both the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and the Eagle Ford formation in Texas require more than 4 million gallons of water for each well. Where do you think all of that water would come from? Florida needs the water in our aquifer for drinking and for agriculture, not for hydraulic fracturing.
I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy the springs in our area while the conditions are optimal. It only takes a few heavy rainstorms to bring the level too high to truly enjoy them. Let your state representatives know that you expect them to work towards a fracking ban in Florida, so that future generations will be able to experience the natural beauty we all take for granted now.
Eric lives in Suwannee County and is a public school educator. He is an independent contractor. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.