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On September 27, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hosted a booth at the second annual Marion County Springs Festival, held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rainbow Springs State Park near Dunnellon, FL.
A mix of public and private organizations sponsored the festival, including Progress Energy, the Dunnellon Chamber of Commerce, Rainbow Springs State Park, the Marion County Clean Water Program, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the St. Johns River Water Management District, Mister Landscaper, the U.S. Forest Service, Silver Springs Attractions, the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce, and others.
About 30 groups hosted booths at the event, which was coordinated by Larry Chalfant of the Marion County Clean Water Program.
The purpose of the festival is to educate the public on Florida springs, their value, and how everyone can make a difference in their preservation for the betterment of the community. This year's festival drew approximately 1,000 visitors.
Educational seminars were held throughout the day. Booths set up around the park had displays and literature available for the public. Speakers included State Senator Nancy Argenziano (keynote speaker), Marion County Commissioners Jim Payton and Parnell Townley, and other public officials. Trudy Phelps, a hydrologist at the USGS office in Altamonte Springs, gave a seminar entitled "Quality of Groundwater in the Silver Springs Area." Jon Semmes and the Florida Friends, a local band, provided live country music. Families enjoyed swimming in the sparkling turquoise water and picnicking at the park facilities.
Leel Knowles, a hydrologist at the USGS office in Altamonte Springs, was one of the volunteers staffing the USGS booth. Leel's studies include measuring surface waters in the Indian River Lagoon to determine the quantity of runoff entering the estuarine environment, and developing a water budget for Rainbow Springs and Silver Springs. Evapotranspiration is the largest component of the water budget besides rainfall.
Leel is currently studying how wetlands are recharged, by investigating wetlands' response to evapotranspiration, soil moisture, and rainfall. These data are placed in a State-wide network and used in numerical models to predict what will happen in various scenarios.
Of particular concern is how much water can safely be withdrawn without causing undesirable effects on the surface. If the models indicate that water levels will fall below an acceptable threshold, actions can be taken to reduce the amount withdrawn from wetlands.
Harley Means, a geologist with the Florida Geological Survey (FGS) in Tallahassee, staffed a booth for the FGS, a division of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). His presentation, "Where Does Our Springs Water Come From?," gave an overview of the geology of the springs that flow into the Rainbow Springs basin. He also spoke on the Florida Springs Initiative, a DEP program to investigate springs-related issues.
Wayne Knudson, a charter member of the Marion County Aquaholics Paddlers Group, a canoeing and kayaking club with 175 members, staffed a booth for the organization, which is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of springs. Wayne conducted the opening ceremony, "Sacred Water Dedication," in full Native American garb.
In 1997, the Aquaholics Paddlers officially adopted the Oklawaha River from the Greenway Trails System. Three or four times a year, they do a river cleanup and had their most recent collection of garbage on display.
People of all ages and backgrounds attended the event. Organizers hope that the festival will stimulate year-round activity in the community. Planning is already underway for the third annual Marion County Springs Festival, which will be held in September 2004 at the following springs: Silver Glen Springs on September 24, Silver Springs Attraction on September 25, and Juniper Springs on September 26, 2004. For more information, please contact the Marion County Clean Water Program at (352) 671-8364, or the Marion County Chamber of Commerce at (352) 629-8051.
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Marion County Springs Festival
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