Confirmed victory

Please help Save Homosassa and Chassahowitzka Springs for Florida's Manatees and for future generations.

Tell SWFWMD's Governing Board and the Governor of Florida: NO reduction in flow to the Homosassa and Chassahowitzka Rivers!

Home to Federal and State Listed Endangered Species including the West Indian Manatee, the spring-fed Chassahowitzka and Homosassa Rivers are now at risk of further degradation and loss of essential fresh water habitat if the Southwest Water Management District’s ("SWFWMD") Governing Board approves reductions in flow proposed in the Minimum Flows and Levels on October 30, 2012.

Endangered West Indian Manatees rely on the Homosassa and Chassahowitzka Springs for life-saving thermal refuge and essential fresh water habitat. Generations of Manatees return to Chassahowitzka and Homosassa Springs annually to take refuge in the life saving warm spring waters. Florida's Gulf waters get too cold for Manatees during winter months, and manatees unable to find thermal refuge in coastal springs like Chassahowitzka and Homosassa would certainly perish.

On October 30, 2012 the Governing Board of the South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) will decide to approve or deny SWFWMD's staff's recommendations of a life-threatening 9% (nine percent) reduction in flow to the Chassahowitzka, and 3% (three percent) reduction in flow to the Homosassa resulting in a staff-estimated 15% (fifteen percent) loss of habitat in each of these fragile spring-fed fresh water coastal ecosystems.

SWFWMD staff continues to encourage the Governing Board to accept these devastating reductions, even though both of these spring-fed coastal rivers are legally designated as "Florida Outstanding Waterways," are home to Federally Endangered Species, including the West Indian Manatee, have already suffered significant degradation in recent years, and should be statutorily protected from further degradation and loss of spring flow.

It is now completely up to the Public, WE THE PEOPLE, to save these Springs, and beg SWFWMD's Governing Board and the Governor and Legislature of Florida to deny any further reductions in flow to Chassahowitzka and Homosassa's Rivers.

Degradation of habitat has already occurred on both of these spring-fed rivers since the time of their designation as Outstanding Florida Waters, and NO further degradation should be allowed to occur. 

Any reduction in fresh water flow to the springs could allow further encroachment by the salty water of the Gulf of Mexico, or, in the worse case scenario, could stop sufficient flow of fresh water to the springs entirely, making them too brackish to support any of the fresh water species presently living there, and too cold to provide live-saving thermal refuge to endangered Manatees during winter months.

In addition to loss or significant reduction in essential habitat to Florida's Manatees, peer review of the proposed Minimum Flows and Levels have warned that the proposed reductions of fresh water flow and increased salinity could lead to "extirpation" of saline intolerant species. Numerous rare and imperiled species of plants and animals from Old Growth Cypress and terrestrial orchids to Southeastern Fresh Water Mussels, Chassahowitzka Black Bears, Whooping Cranes, Wood Storks, and Manatees (and many, many more) rely on the spring runs and fresh water habitats of the greater Chassahowitzka-Homosassa spring-fed Riverine Swamp Sanctuary and associated fresh water forested wetlands for their continued survival.

The Chassahowitzka and Homosassa spring-fed fresh water ecosystems are too precious to "degrade" any further, or risk "extirpating" forever by increased salt water intrusion.

Please sign our petition asking SWFWMD's Governing Board and the Governor of Florida to deny any further reduction in flow to the spring-fed Homosassa and Chassahowitzka Rivers. These rare springs and sacred cenotes, and the fresh water habitats they infuse are National Treasures, arguably World Heritage Sites that should be preserved and protected for future generations (of humans and wildlife).

Thank you.

Letter to
South West Florida Water Management District Governing Board
Dear SWFWMD Governing Board,

We implore you to deny any reductions in flow to the spring-fed Chassahowitzka and Homosassa Rivers.

Both of these "Florida Outstanding Waters" have already experienced substantial degradation and now urgently need your help in Restoring them to to the more pristine, natural conditions present at the time of their designation as Outstanding Florida Waters.

The spring-fed Chassahowitzka and Homosassa Rivers are home to Federal and State Listed Endangered Species, including the West Indian Manatee, that rely on the fresh water habitats for their continued survival. These rare springs and the myriad of fresh water fish, birds, and wildlife that they support are also essential to the area's Eco-tour and fishing economy.

Endangered West Indian Manatees rely on the Homosassa and Chassahowitzka Springs for life-saving thermal refuge and essential fresh water habitat. Generations of Manatees return to the Chassahowitzka and Homosassa springs annually to take refuge in the life saving warm spring waters, and without these familiar winter refuges, Homosasa and Chassahowitzka's returning manatees would perish.

Any further reduction in fresh water flow to the springs could allow further encroachment by the saline waters of the Gulf, and in worse-case scenario, could stop sufficient flow of fresh water to the springs and make them too brackish to support the fresh water species (bass, sunfish, apple snail, aquatic plants, terrestrial fresh water habitats, etc.) presently living there, and too cold to provide life-saving thermal refuge to endangered Manatees during winter months.

FFWCC Peer review of the proposed Minimum Flows and Levels warned that the proposed reductions of fresh water flow could lead to "extirpation" of saline intolerant species. Residents and biologists familiar with the Chassahowitzka and Homosassa Rivers have observed declines in water quality, die-off of salt intolerant fresh water plants, and a movement of saline-influenced habitats farther up stream towards the springs. It is essential that you deny further reductions in flow, and make every effort to preserve the existing fresh water flow, and if possible, restore spring quality to that which would insure continued survival of the freshwater dependent habitats and species.

Rare and imperiled species of plants and animals (from Old Growth Cypress and terrestrial orchids to southeastern fresh water mussels, Chassahowitzka Black Bears, Whooping Cranes, Wood Storks, Manatees, and others) rely on the spring runs and associated fresh water habitats of the Chassahowitzka-Homosassa Riverine Swamp Sanctuary and forested wetlands for their continued survival.

The Chassahowitzka and Homosassa spring-fed fresh water ecosystems are too precious to degrade any further, or risk "extirpating" forever by increased salt water intrusion.

These rare springs and sacred cenotes, and the sprawling fresh water forested wetlands they infuse are National Treasures, arguably World Heritage Sites that should be preserved and protected for future generations (of humans and wildlife).

The undersigned implore SWFWMD's Governing Board, the State Legislature, and the Governor of Florida to deny any further reduction in flow to the spring-fed Homosasa and Chassahowitzka Rivers.

Please say "NO" to reductions in flow to the Chassahowitzka and Homosassa Rivers.

Thank you.