1. What is a spring?
A spring is a point where groundwater flows out of the ground, and is thus where
the aquifer surface meets the surface of the earth. With more than 700
freshwater springs, Florida has one of the largest concentrations of springs on
Earth. Most of the springs are located in northern and central Florida.
2. How do springs form?
All of Florida is underlain by limestone which occurs at various depths beneath
the surface. Where the limestone is at or near the surface it becomes vulnerable
to chemical weathering processes. Rainwater is made slightly acidic by carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere and can become more acidic as it moves through the
soil. When this acidic rainwater reaches the limestone it can dissolve away some
of the rock. Over millions of years this process, called dissolution, can cause
numerous cavities and caves to form in the limestone. These cavities can be
large enough to fit buildings in! When the material overlying one of these
cavities collapses, it forms a sinkhole. The landforms created by the
dissolution of limestone are called karst and include sinkholes, springs and
caves. The majority of large springs in Florida were likely formed by sinkhole
activity. Water in our aquifers rises and falls due to changes in sea level and
in precipitation rates. When water in the aquifer is high enough to intersect
the ground surface, through a sinkhole or other karst feature, it creates a
3. What is a spring magnitude?
Springs are ranked according to the volume of water flowing from the ground.
Discharge from Florida’s springs can range from less than 1 pint per minute
(Eighth Magnitude) to more than 64.6 million gallons per day (First Magnitude).
4. What are the biggest threats to springs and how do you
The health of springs depends largely on the activities in the spring basin and
at the spring itself. The people closest to the spring can have the biggest
impact on a spring’s health.
- Lawn Care: To protect the spring, landscape your yard with native,
Florida Friendly, plants. Non-native plants often require more frequent
watering and fertilization in order to grow. Excess fertilizers can leach
into the groundwater and travel to springs upsetting the delicate balance of
the fragile spring ecosystem. Visit www.floridayards.org for more
- Human Consumption: Floridians uses an average of 103 gallons of water a day.
Approximately Ninety percent of the state's drinking water is supplied by
groundwater. It is important that citizens limit their water usage, through
local conservation practices, to ensure adequate water supplies for human use
and to protect fragile spring ecosystems.
- Recreational Activities: Recreational activities like camping, swimming,
tubing and boating can have a direct impact on the water quality of the springs
as well as the animals and plants that live there. These impacts include the
trampling of native vegetation, the disturbance of wildlife, an increase in soil
erosion and water turbidity, and direct physical damage to plants and animals by
boat propellers, groundings and anchors. When people visit the springs they can
ensure that they are being good stewards by not disturbing submerged or emergent
vegetation so as to minimize recreational impacts to springs ecology.
5. How many springs are located in Florida?
There are more than 700 freshwater springs in the state of Florida.
6. What is government doing to protect Florida’s springs?
The Florida Springs Initiative, established by Governor Jeb Bush in 2001, is the
first comprehensive, coordinated plan to restore and protect Florida’s more than
700 freshwater springs. Last year the Florida Springs Initiative set aside more
than $300,000 to protect spring ecosystems, water quality and flow within
Florida’s award-winning state park system. Florida has invested more than $15
million, $2.5 million each year, to improve spring water quality and flow
through research, monitoring, education and landowner assistance.
7. What types of animals are found in springs?
Clear spring waters provide a natural aquarium for many of the state's most
common, as well as most unique, fish species including:
- The American Mullet that migrates to the springs from the ocean.
- The White and Brown Bullhead Catfish that lives in the dark recesses of the
springs' underwater caves, emerging only at night to feed.
Florida's springs also support some of the most unique reptiles and
amphibians in the United States, including:
- The American Alligator, the largest reptile in North America.
- The Loggerhead Musk Turtle, which attains a maximum size of only five
Above the surface of the water, springs are home to many of the most
recognizable mammals and birds found in Florida.
- The Great Blue Heron, Whitetail Deer and Otter, can be found at the springs
- The springs' constant 70-degree waters provide a warm-water refuge for
species like the West-Indian Manatee.
8. Where can I visit a spring?
There are 18 Florida State Parks named for springs in Florida. Each year these
parks draw more than two million visitors. Use the springs’ locator to find a
spring to visit.
For more information please visit