On October 11, 2011, Dr. Robert Knight, President of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, organized a meeting of interested stakeholders with the purpose of discussing the path forward for Silver Springs. The meeting resulted from the discontinuation of the working groups and restoration planning efforts that had been previously funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Florida Springs Initiative. There were approximately 30 people at the meeting, including private citizens, non-governmental organizations, scientists, geologists, and local farmers. From these efforts, the Silver Springs Alliance was born.
The first official meeting of the Silver Springs Alliance, Inc. was held on February 22, 2012. At this meeting the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws were approved, and the creation of a logo was discussed. The issue of primary importance was a large Consumptive Use Permit (CUP) that was applied for by Adena Springs Ranch (also known as Sleepy Creek Lands). All those present agreed to host a community meeting for the purpose of learning more about the permit and the possible consequences of such a large withdrawal of water.
On April 3, 2012, Silver Springs Alliance sponsored its first educational forum, which was heavily attended by the public and reported in the media. The focus of the forum, held on the campus of the College of Central Florida, was Water Consumption and the Adena Springs Ranch water permit. The evening was so successful that Silver Springs Alliance was invited by the St. Johns Riverkeeper to hold an encore event in Jacksonville on May 15, 2012.
Education forum on Water Consumption and Adena Springs, 2012
Representatives of the Board of Directors traveled to Tallahassee on July 24, 2012, to join other environmental leaders to present 15,800 signatures to Secretary of FDEP. These were signatures gathered in one month following the SPEAK UP: Silver Springs event.
In late summer 2012, Silver Springs Alliance was granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Since receiving non-profit status, the Alliance has held additional public forums on issues including Florida's imperiled springs (August 5, 2014) and the Rodman Dam (May 5, 2015). The Alliance also participated in public meetings on the Silver Springs Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) and continues to be an advocate for restoring Silver Springs.
In 2014 and 2016, the Alliance hosted educational boat tours for local leaders on the Silver River where participants could learn about the issues affecting the springs from well-known experts. The Alliance also hosted a boat tour of the Rodman Reservoir and Ocklawaha River during the drawdown stage in 2015 for members of the press, who reported on the issue to their viewers and readers.
Silver River Boat Tour for Local and State Leaders, 2014
Also in 2016, the Alliance became a member of the Florida Springs Council, a consortium of springs organizations across the state working to ensure the restoration, preservation and protection for future generations of Florida’s springs and the Floridan aquifer that sustains those springs and provides our drinking water.
In December 2016, Sleepy Creek Lands re-emerged as a significant threat to Silver Springs when a request to withdraw 2.68 million gallons of water per day (mgd) from the aquifer was recommended for approval by staff at the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD). The Alliance, in partnership with the St. Johns Riverkeeper and Florida Defenders of the Environment, mobilized to organize a demonstration against the permit at the SJRWMD headquarters. A petition for administrative challenge against the permit was filed on January 9, 2017, with the Silver Springs Alliance named as one of the co-petitioners.
Say No to Sleepy Creek Demonstration, 2017
In 2017 and beyond, the Alliance will continue to work on issues that affect the health of Silver Springs. The Alliance Board of Directors meets on the third Wednesday of each month from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Marion County Library-Main. Meetings are open to the public.