Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Friends of the Wekiva River Fundraising Event 9/10/21 Wekiva Island

Thank you for the opportunity of your time. I am reaching out to you for your support with our upcoming “Save the River” fundraising event.

The Wekiva River and its tributary springs, including Wekiwa and Rock Springs are facing challenges that need critical attention. The over-pumping of the Floridan Aquifer and nutrient pollution from human activities are endangering the future of these environmental jewels.  That is why the Friends of the Wekiva River and the Florida Springs Council are joining forces to hold a fund-raiser from 6-9 PM on September 10, 2021 at Wekiva Island.


The purpose of this event is to raise money for springs protection and to enlist new members by showcasing our efforts to protect the river and springs. We are asking local businesses to help us protect the river and springs by donating an item or services for a silent auction that will be held at the event.  Your donated item or service will be recognized at the event and on our FOWR and FSC social media.


Please let me know if you have any questions about the fund-raiser or the challenges faced by the springs and river


Event: Friday, September 10th

Save our Springs Silent Auction – Rockin’ the River Run at Wekiva Island

Followed by Friends of the Wekiva River’s Blackwater Creek Paddle @ Seminole State Forest - September 11th  at 9AM

Friends of the Wekiva River and the Florida Springs Council are advocates for Florida Springs Clean and Clear Waterways


How will your donated products benefit your organization?

To communicate the importance of stopping the over-pumping of the Floridan Aquifer and protect the future of the Wekiva River and its tributary springs.


How will funds donated be used?

To protect Florida’s freshwater springs and its tributaries by coordinating organizations and our members to lobby in Tallahassee for more protective springs laws, monitor agency rulemaking, bring legal action when necessary, and mobilize wherever a spring is under threat.


Local News article July 6, 2021


Florida’s freshwater springs are in jeopardy, new documentary suggests

The health and future of Florida’s natural freshwater springs may be in jeopardy, a new documentary suggests.

The two-part series, “The Fellowship of the Springs,” shines a light on the Sunshine State’s unique artesian springs, the threats to their livelihood and the efforts to save them. Both parts of the documentary will air 4-6 p.m. Thursday on WUCF in Central Florida.

Oscar Corral, the film’s director and producer, is based in Miami but fell in love with the springs when traveling with his family. “I’m somewhat obsessed with Florida’s springs; I love them,” he said. “The springs are incredibly unique. There’s really no place on Earth that has springs like this that are this size, this pristine and under this concentration.”


‘Magic waters’

In the documentary, scenes show families and friends enjoying pristine blue waters at Rock Springs, Wekiwa Springs, Devil’s Den, Weeki Wachee Springs and Blue Spring.

These “magic waters” are known as tourism destinations, as well as habitats for manatees, turtles and alligators. In addition, the Floridan Aquifer, the source of the springs, provides drinking water for a wide swath of Florida and parts of Georgia.

“We believe we have the largest concentration of artesian springs, these pressurized springs that come out of a confined aquifer, in the whole world,” said Dr. Robert Knight, director of the Florida Springs Institute. “In their natural state, they’re extremely productive aquatic systems because the water is clear and a constant temperature.”

These more than 1,000 recorded springs represent a unique habitat unseen in many parts of the world. But these beacons of tourism and sustenance in Florida are under threat.

Silenced springs In “Magic Waters,” the first part of the documentary, Corral and his crew follow Dennis Mader, a springs activist, to Kissengen Springs near the Peace River. Mader remembers, while growing up, swimming in the clear waters of this spring that once flourished.

When he makes the wooded trek to Kissengen Springs to see what it looks like now, he’s aghast when viewing what looks like a murky, stinky pond.

“Oh my goodness,” Mader remarks in the film. “This is like a bad joke, only it’s not funny. It’s hard to believe this spring used to produce 20 million gallons of clear water every day because now it looks like the lowliest of mudholes, cattle pond.”

The problems that plague Florida’s springs are multifaceted, but activists point to two main issues that need to be rectified.

One problem is the wholesale loss of spring flow, which is caused by groundwater pumping. From Orlando north, essentially, all of the water we use is from the Floridan Aquifer,” Knight said. “Some springs have lost all their flow, other springs have lost maybe 15-20 percent. But the overall average is 32 percent for the lost flow in springs.

This has caused some springs to essentially “die” when water stops flowing up from the aquifer. Another big problem comes from elevated nitrate levels in the springs, which can cause blooms of toxic algae. Sources of this pollution include fertilizer from agriculture, wastewater, septic tanks and urban lawns.

The documentary’s Orlando airing comes on the heels of an assessment from the Florida Springs Council, which states that the Florida Legislature has woefully underfunded projects to restore spring water quality and quantity.

There’s an unwillingness among water management district boards, often staffed with agriculture and big business owners, to slow the rate of groundwater pumping or fix the problems plaguing springs, Corral said. “The state could do a lot more to help the springs. And yet, every time that they’ve developed some sort of legislation to help the springs, it has no teeth and nothing is really getting done,” he said. “It’s almost like paying lip service to the springs without actually having to make any of the difficult decisions.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appears in the film, as does current Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Our priorities in the last 70 years have been on development and business and trying to create an economy here,” Fried says in the film. “What we didn’t do is prioritize the environment as we were doing that.”

In part two of the documentary, “Blue Rebellion,” Corral travels to Tallahassee and interviews legislators inside the Florida State Capitol. He finds that some of them have heard of the springs but haven’t dedicated significant time or resources to the issue. He then finds an unidentified lobbyist to talk with. “We only care about what we’re paid to care about,” the man says to Corral.


Hope for the future

The state of springs may seem bleak when considering the amount of time, effort and political willpower it would take to correct the most pressing issues affecting Florida’s freshwater.

“There’s very little to be hopeful about right now. This is the apathy of the public and the overt moneymaking attitude of the politicians and businesses,” Knight said. “That doesn’t mean it can’t change, so I’m not going to stop trying.”

Other activists have struck a more hopeful tone, such as Michelle “Michi” Colson, a professional mermaid and springs advocate. “If we want to live here, if we want to have a Florida in 20 or 30 years, we have to do something different,” she said. “Nestle isn’t too big, Ginnie Springs isn’t too big. The governor isn’t too big. There’s no entity big enough that we can’t fight against.”

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson is a business owner and activist based in Fort White who has spent countless hours attending public meetings to speak up for Florida’s environment. “It’s going to be a grassroots effort that protects the spring. We can do a lot,” Malwitz-Jipson said. “Nature comes back. It’s pretty resilient if you leave it alone. But the human footprint is big … We need to be understanding our responsibilities.”


Help us protect, preserve and restore the Wekiva River and Florida’s natural freshwater springs!


Lee Ann Earle

Membership Chair

Friends of the Wekiva River

Federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit corporation

1 Reply

Hi @LeeAnn - Thanks for sharing this with us! It's great to hear about the work you all are doing to conserve the Wekiva River and its springs.

Each year, the co-op invests in local, regional, and national nonprofits throughout the country. At the very local level, our outdoor programs and outreach teams work with local store managers to identify partners that we invite to apply for grants. Applications are evaluated according to the applicant’s ability to steward urban and wild places where our members recreate, and/or increase access to the outdoors for historically under represented communities in the United States.

It sounds like you are interested in learning whether Friends of the Wekiva River could be a good fit for one of these grants. Please contact the Winter Park REI store to connect with a manager for more information. To learn more about REI’s fight for life outdoors, you can also visit our latest Impact Report.

Hopefully this helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.