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Bone Valley Phosphate Mines
PHOSPHATE MINING OFFICIALS-POOR ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS

Over the past seventy years, Florida’s phosphate industry let many man-made severe environmental accidents occur one after another over the years, causing serious environmental impacts to pristine “one of a kind” ecological regions of Florida. The Florida taxpayers are also paying for the court costs, attorney fees, and the like while the court battles continue daily between federal and state environmental agencies versus Florida’s industry officials.

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Lithia Springs - Spring Opening

(Fig. 1) Lithia Springs- Spring Opening

PEACE RIVER VALLEY

The Peace River watershed lies in west central Florida about forty miles east of the Tampa Bay area. Florida’s Peace River was declared an “endangered river” by “American Rivers.org,” a non-profit organization committed to protecting and restoring North American rivers.

The central Florida region holds unique pristine watersheds, marshlands, bogs, and other freshwater naturally occurring filtering systems. Watersheds are areas of land with waterways that flow to a common destination. Most of the region's drinking water is pumped from aquifers that are “recharged” from the watersheds described above.
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Peace River Spring Fed Tributary(Fig. 3) Peace River Spring Fed Tributary

Karst Rock Landscapes

  • karst springs
karst springs1 2 3 4

(Fig 1.) Karst Springs and Aquifer Formations

Florida Karst Rock Formations

Karst rock is found in Florida from Tallahassee to Miami, but not always near the surface. When karst rock is found near the surface, a unique hydrogeologic phenomenon can occur. Water contained in the porous rock can flow like a sub-surface river. West Central Florida is one great example of hydrogeologic movement embedded in karst rock. In fact, Florida is virtually unique in all the world based on the number of natural karst springs and aquifers at or near the surface. It is easy to visualize an aquifer when one sees a crystal clear surface spring. The springs are spectacular examples of gravity driven water flow.

How Is Karst Rock Beneficial?

We know that natural clean, fresh rainwater is slightly acidic, and karst rock is soluble in water. Each time rain water is absorbed in karst, some of the karst dissolves, eventually creating underground caverns filled with clear, clean freshwater. These earthen hydrogeologic structures are called, “aquifers”. Aquifers near or at the surface sometimes form natural freshwater springs. Aquifers and springs are beneficial for drinking water, agriculture, feeding livestock and the like.

Natural springs form where large cracks within the karst rock aquifer earthen structures. The structures are made of limestone, clay, and sand and lie at or near the surface. Florida has thousands of these types of springs. In fact, the deepest natural spring in the world found thus far is near Tallahassee, Florida. Karst rock springs and caves, and caverns are numerous and can be found from Tallahassee, south along the Gulf of Mexico to Tampa, Florida.

The Floridan Aquifer

The largest aquifer system in Florida is called the “Floridan” aquifer system. In west central Florida, the Floridan aquifer is located directly in a karst rock landscape. The Floridan aquifer system encompasses thousands of square miles of multiple layered aquifer systems, buried under layers of karst rock. All the various layered aquifer systems float upon the Floridan aquifer system. This makes the Floridan aquifer system a unique ecosystem, possibly one of the most important karst rock ecosystems on the planet. The Floridan aquifer is in danger of surface pollutants and severe environmental impacts due directly to Florida’s phosphate industry practices. Historically, Florida's phosphate industry are poor stewards of the environment in and around phosphate plants in general.

Karst Landscapes are Vulnerable to Surface Pollutants

We can see west central Florida karst rock formations at or near the surface benefits local residents in many ways. The karst rock helps residents in the form of aquifers by absorbing rainwater from the surface. This type of landscape also absorbs natural and man-made pollutants as well. The pollutants are absorbed into the aquifers, and can cause severe environmental damage to the aquifer system. Some pollutants, such as phosphorus-based nutrients cause unwanted algae growth. The algae growth has a negative impact on the health of Florida’s springs and aquifers. Algae deplete the dissolved oxygen concentrations in water causing plant life in the area to suffocate and die. This, in turn, causes more plant life to die and so on until the fish, mollusks, and other fauna begins to disappear. This is known as an aquatic “dead zone” and is void of life. All of the above mentioned is causing severe drinking water issues including quality and quantity in west central Florida.

Algae Impacts On Humans

Algae in Florida’s springs and aquifers have also shown to be dangerous to humans. The Florida park service keeps records of any issues related to algae growth and has determined algae can cause respiratory issues, rashes, and other skin irritations. The Florida park service reported over 140 incidents from algae related health complaints to humans in 2002.

Aquifer and Spring Degradation

Florida’s aquifers and springs are in imminent danger from surface pollutants, such as the phosphate industries toxic waste being dumped directly into the local aquifers daily. Unfortunately, Florida’s politicians side with the phosphate industry and will until held accountable for their discretions.

DISAPEARING WATERSHEDS

Central Florida's groundwater and aquifers are becoming extinct by watershed destruction via phosphate strip mining operations. Florida's natural watersheds, known to the Florida phosphate mining industry as phosphate overburden, are being destroyed for the beginnings of a phosphate strip mine. Where is the balance between Florida politics, industry, and the Public?

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Phosphate Rock
WHAT IS AN AQUIFER

An aquifer is contained in the sub-surface encased in a body of saturated rock which also contain caverns and watersheds.

In this case the rock is limestone based, through which water can easily be contained and also move as though it is in a sub-surface river.

Aquifers must be both permeable and porous and include such rock types as sandstone, conglomerate, fractured limestone and unconsolidated sand and gravel. This type of earthen material contains enough drinking water for millions of Florida's citizens year after year.

Central Florida is made of just such a rock landscape and truley does contain everyone's fresh water resources.

However, phosphate officials are "permitted" by the state of Florida to remove everything mentioned above "containing" everyone's freshwater resources in very large tracts of land, measured in square miles, to reach the valuable phosphate rock they seek.

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