Three Sisters, a Phantasmagoria or a Jewel ?
Three Sisters springs together with others issuing fresh water into
Crystal River/Kings Bay –
Magnolia, Idiots Delight, Hunter, and Catfish – are free from
the general salt water intrusion welling up from below suffered elsewhere.
The origin of that fresh water would seem to be from the northeast
where the potentiometric gradients are greater (Lake Rousseau/Rainbow
River). Aquifer flows from the east seem to have been reduced by drought
and domestic uptakes causing many vents to cease altogether or succumb
to the salty, mineral up–wellings.
For the present, rains falling upon the Three Sisters property drain
down into a karst system of porous limestone, with its associated channels
and larger conduits. The rains keep the water honest. No excess nutrient
loading or toxic chemicals are applied there, nor do automotive or industrial effluents
escape onto the land. The area was draglined clear of vegetation decades
ago and left essentially as barren land. Very poor quality soil overlays
the karst. It does no harm. Over the decades the water flowing within
the underground karst hydrologic systems has settled into a state
of relative equilibrium.
However, as soon as any road works or infrastructure installation
begins the situation will begin to change dramatically.
Heavy machinery cuts up the soil, and disturbs the equilibrium of
the karst. Laying down impervious roads and driveways introduces fast
flowing lateral rain run off, as opposed to simple vertical penetration.
The poor soil flows laterally too. Runnels collapse, making things
worse. Rivulets home onto surface waters bringing erosion and sedimentation.
Eventually springs, and lakes are compromized as underground channels
and conduits convey silt into water bodies as turbidity.
Adding building slabs or piled foundations, and eventually roofing,
increases impervious areas to speed lateral flows, and create pollution
pathways to the once clear fresh waters. Adding people adds a complex
of excess fertilizer and household chemicals to the run off toxic mix.
Their vehicles contribute further byproducts of engine combustion and
leaked mineral pollutants.
Unchecked, progressive eutrophication of the cleanest of waters
follows, compromizing the Outstanding Florida Waters of Crystal River/Kings
Bay. The waters that do much for the beauty that invited us to live
here. The waters that sustain the aquatic habitat of the wildlife we
enjoy so much. The waters we enjoy resting on and relaxing in. The
waters that attract visitors from far and wide to come and share, contributing
to the economic purse. The adulterated waters, allowing increased algae
formations and invasive exotic aquatic plants, clogging, clouding and
degrading water quality. Destroying waters upon which the economy of
the region depends.
Once destroyed by buildings, for the dream of riches and pleasures,
there is no going back.
Is it a practicable proposition to restore that land and improve the
water quality and general public amenity? Sure it is. It can be made
better for a whole community of people as opposed to only a few occupants.
Trading a potential tax roll for all the benefit is not an option.
Programs exist to prevent water degradation, especially where springs
Before any disturbance of the
land can occur, every development, as that proposed for Three Sisters, has to be granted
an Environmental Resource Permit (ERP). Whenever land is waterfront it is assumed that owners
of any dwelling on it will want access to those waters, either as soon
as can be or in the future. Particular State rules of law are then
applied. Such issues as artificial accretion ( extending the land into
a water body), erosion and sedimentation into the waters are considered.
Proposed measures to prevent it happening are examined. Guidelines,
design standards and criteria are specified in the law. Certain activities
within given distances of the water are prohibited, to prevent water
quality being degraded, such as application of fertilizers and disposal
of waste – even trampling or removing vegetation that effective
binds the soils.
If the stipulations of the rule of law are not fulfilled, a permit
is not issued.
The cardinal principals upon which conflicts of interest are resolved
is the public interest and the supremacy of law. Nevertheless, concerned
citizens must express their voice to ensure their interests are heard
So, if there is this hope of an alternative to destroying such crucial
water resources, let us focus upon the jewel that well might come into
Decades ago the land in question was forested wetlands. Some recall
their joy of paddling along creeks, among the trees and dense foliage
to penetrate far into the property. Birds, animals and plants of many
species could be observed there. Wetland plants and even hardwood hammock
can be encouraged to return, given time and expert care. Such areas
still exist as small wonderlands in the vicinity today, if you know
where to find them.
Perhaps it will be many years before water access is again possible.
However, raised board walks and passage for the physically challenged
can be provided, so that everyone can experience and enjoy the heritage
that Florida once was in this locality. An observation tower or two
would afford that awesome experience of rising above everything to
look down on manatees or an osprey or bald eagle nest with young.
When this experience of wildlife on or under the waters of the region,
or fishing, swimming, kayak or other boating is enjoyed, in the knowledge
of the environment and its interdependency of ecosystems, learned at
a nearby public education center; that truly becomes living enriched.
The jewel, in reality, is the transforming of people by knowledge
and experience of the heritage that is theirs. A jewel in a glorious
"Phantasmagoria" – a constantly changing medley of
real or imagined images (as in a dream).
"Jewel" – something to be treasured or esteemed precious