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Dispatch 1 Audio Transcripts

This page contains the transcripts of audio tracks included in the Springs Expedition dispatches.

Water's Journey Begins in the Heart of Karst Count

Wes Skiles describes deteriorating health of the springs
What do you think we're doing to the environment, the very ecosystem in which such a miraculous thing is born from? You know, 30 years ago when I began this, the aquifer was a beautiful healthy place, And now, it's more like a sick patient in critical condition. The aquifers are at all-time record lows. The concentrations of chemicals in that water are at all time highs. And it's having a heavy impact on the biodiversity of very important ecosystems. Limpkins, a beautiful bird that are native to this region have just begun to absolutely disappear. They do not come to the springs anymore. Certain species of snails and crayfish gone, just mysteriously gone. They've been here all my life; they're gone.

Wes Skiles describes the human impact on springs
You know, it's an out of sight, out of mind problem that we have with groundwater. People just think water comes out of the ground pure and clear. Instead, it's very much connected to our everyday lives. Everything we do; our septic tanks, our agricultural and yard pesticides and chemicals we apply; our cars, our oils, our brakes drop heavy metals. All of that stuff has the ability, if not managed carefully, to wash right into the ground and then down into our drinking water.

Wes Skiles describes the impact of lawns on springs
People in their own yards need to use less fertilizer, have less of a yard. What's a yard, really? What is a yard? In our society we've placed all this significance on yards. I mean that we're supposed to, what is that supposed to make us great people, makes us rich? No. It makes us have something that we have to constantly maintain. If we would go with xeriscape; logical plants that don't need water and smaller yards, we'd have to take care of a lot less and we'd pollute a lot less. One of our biggest sources of pollution is neighborhoods. They don't realize it. They want to think that the pollution is coming from everybody else. "Oh, the farmers' polluting, the dairy farm is killing… Oh, the golf course is terrible for the environment, yet they don't want to recognize that they're doing maybe even in a percentage of humans to those activities, a much larger part in the damage of our drinking water.

Wes Skiles makes the case for protecting the springs
We have to do a better job than we are staring to protect these features, to manage the water that goes into them, and start putting more emphasis on buying places like this and making sure that these creeks can't get polluted. Because, if we let them, all we're doing is we're letting ourselves be poisoned. This is the beginning of our arterial network. Just like the body needs a healthy blood system, our groundwater system needs a healthy series of caves that carry and transport the water to different parts of the Floridan aquifer.

Wes Skiles explains changes needed to protect groundwater
So, when you start to understand that the aquifer is not some mysterious filter, it's a river of water underground, and that the layer of protection between it is very thin and permeable, then you start to appreciate, "Hey gee, maybe I shouldn't dump my oil onto the ground, maybe I shouldn't carry this trash into the sinkhole, maybe we should invest in a better water reclamation system or get our septic tank out of the ground and change over to water treatment plant. So, there's a lot of things we can do to change the way we treat ground water.

Wes Skiles describes how each person can make a difference
We can fix a lot of these problems like I'm showing you. here. I'm going to fix the problem of the sink hole. I'm going to do my part. But, if we all do our part, that little tiny sacrifice, collectively, it makes a huge difference, an enormous difference. And so, piece-by-piece, if we turn the tide we will see the water's return. We will see the clarity return to our waters. It can happen. We've seen success stories in surface waters. Now, we've got to recognize that the underground rivers are in the same need that the surface supplies were at one time, and start fixing those problems.

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My FloridaFlorida Department of Environmental Protection