Bill filed to protect “Outstanding Florida” springs

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State Sen. Charlie Dean filed 38-page proposal Friday to protect the state’s natural waterways, designated as “Outstanding Florida” springs.

The bill (SB 1576) amends the Florida Springs and Aquifer Act to assign a class of waterways as “historic first magnitude” springs, requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to map out conservation plans and management zones by July 1, 2015.

If passed, the bill would authorize water-management districts to establish minimum flows and water levels for those specially designated springs.

Dean is one of a group of state lawmakers, whose current focus has been on protection of Florida springs.

“Springs are a unique part of this state’s scenic beauty, deserving the highest level of protection under … the state Constitution,” the bill’s wording states. “Springs provide critical habitat for plants and animals, including many endangered or threatened species. They provide immeasurable natural, recreational, economic and inherent value.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.