The Department of Environmental Protection has the primary role of regulating public water systems in Florida.



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The Department of Environmental Protection has the primary role of regulating public water systems in Florida.


The Department of Environmental Protection has the primary role of regulating public water systems in Florida. Authority derives from Chapter 403, Part IV, Florida Statutes and by delegation of the federal program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Department has promulgated a number of rules in the Florida Administrative Code.

A public water system is one that provides water to 25 or more people for at least 60 days each year or serves 15 or more service connections. These public water systems may be publicly or privately owned and operated.

Very small water systems which provide water for public consumption, but which do not fall under the above definition, are regulated by the Department of Health and the county health departments. Bottled water and water vending machines are regulated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Food Safety. Digging of water wells, both public and private, and the quantities of water that may be extracted, are regulated by the Water Management Districts.


Florida Springs History

View of Shangri La SpringGeologists estimate that there are more than 900 springs in the state of Florida, representing what may be the largest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth.

Archaeological evidence indicates that people have been attracted to Florida’s springs for thousands of years. The springs made the perfect home for Native Floridians who used them as a source of water and food, while the clay taken from the spring’s bottom was ideal for making arrowheads, spear heads and knives.

The first spring dwellers coexisted with mighty animals such as the mastodon, mammoth, ground sloth, giant beaver and giant armadillo. During the last Ice Age, 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, sea level was as much as 300 feet below present levels.

As the last of the Ice Age came to a close in Florida, many environmental changes were occurring. Global weather patterns changed and sea levels began to rise. The large animals that had once roamed the Florida landscape were becoming extinct. As these drastic changes were taking place, Florida’s human inhabitants learned to adapt.


The Exploration of La Florida

View of Silver Springs Later arrivals to Florida, Ponce de Leon, John and William Bartram and other explorers, were drawn to the subterranean discharges of freshwater scattered across central and northern Florida.

Springs continued to be a focus of human activity as colonists and settlers moved into Florida. Springs served as locations for Spanish missions, steamboat landings, gristmills and post offices. They were used as baptism sites for churches, as sources of drinking water for homesteads and as reservoirs for irrigating crops. In the middle to late 1800s many of Florida’s springs served as magnets for development, attracting settlers, tourists and railroads. A few springs gave birth to towns, including Silver Springs in Marion County, Green Cove Spring in Clay County and De Leon Springs in Volusia County.


The Power of the Springs

Some of Florida’s springs were valued for their perceived therapeutic qualities. People flocked to these springs to soak in the medicinal waters. Health resorts at several springs attracted thousands of tourists in the early 1900s. People sought the healing powers of White Springs in Hamilton County. Panacea Mineral Springs in Wakulla County was the site of the 125-guest Panacea Hotel. Worthington Springs, in Union County, now completely dry, once beckoned visitors to drink from and bathe in the healing waters. And Warm Mineral Springs, in Sarasota County, still attracts visitors to its year-round 87 degree waters.

Many Florida springs provide recreational opportunities for swimmers, boaters, wildlife observers and cave divers such as Blue Spring (Madison County), Ichetucknee Springs (Columbia County) and Blue Spring (Volusia County).


Florida Springs Today

People swimming at Ginnie SpringSprings continue to attract people with their unique beauty. They have provided immeasurable natural, recreational and economic benefits for residents and visitors for more than a century. Ginnie Springs is one of the most popular freshwater diving locations in the world. More than a dozen Florida state parks protect the springs for which they are named. The springs’ provide recreational opportunities to visitors and several million dollars to the local economy each year.

Florida’s springs serve as windows to the mysteries of the Floridan Aquifer, as home for diverse wildlife communities and as facorite recreation sites for many residents and visitors. The challenge lies in preserving the water quality of Florida’s springs while meeting the needs of Florida’s residents, visitors and wildlife.


Wakulla Springs State Park

550 Wakulla Park Drive
Wakulla Springs, Florida 32327

Florida Caverns State Park
(Blue Hole Spring)

3345 Caverns Road
Marianna, Florida 32446

Ponce de Leon Springs State Park

2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road
Ponce de Leon, Florida 32455

Fanning Springs State Park

18020 N.W. Highway 19
Fanning Springs, Florida 32693

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. Homosassa, Florida 34446

Ichetucknee Springs State Park

12087 S.W. US Hwy 27
Fort White, Florida 32038

Lafayette Blue Spring Springs State Park

799 N.W. Blue Spring Road
Mayo, Florida 32066

Madison Blue Springs State Park

8300 N.E. State Road 6
Lee, Florida 32059

Manatee Springs State Park

11650 N.W. 115th St.
Chiefland, Florida 32626

Peacock Springs State Park

18081 185th Road (Administration Office – NOT park entrance.)
Live Oak, Florida 32060

Rainbow Springs State Park

19158 S.W. 81st Pl. Rd.
Dunnellon, Florida 34432

Suwannee River State Park

20185 County Road 132
Live Oak, Florida 32060

Troy Spring State Park

674 N.E. Troy Springs Road
Branford, Florida 32008

Blue Spring State Park

2100 West French Avenue
Orange City, Florida 32763

DeLeon Spring State Park

601 Ponce DeLeon Blvd./PO Box 1338
DeLeon Springs, Florida 32130

Wekiwa Springs State Park

800 Wekiwa Circle
Apopka, Florida 32712

Werner-Boyce Salt Springs

P.O. Box 490
Port Richey, Florida 34673

Silver Springs State Park

1425 N.E. 58th Avenue
Ocala, Florida 34470

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

6131 Commercial Way
Spring Hill, Florida 34606




The mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park have delighted visitors since 1947. Today, visitors can still witness the magic of the mermaids, take a river boat cruise and canoe or kayak on the Weeki Wachee River. The 538-acre park features a first magnitude spring and a 400-seat submerged theater for watching the live mermaid show.

Buccaneer Bay offers a fun-filled flume ride for thrill seekers of all ages. Our white sandy beach area and covered picnic pavilions provide a relaxing day for your entire family. Weeki Wachee’s animal shows provide audiences with an entertaining and educational look at domesticated birds and reptiles. Located on U.S. 19 at the intersection of SR. 50, just North of Spring Hill and South of Homosassa Springs.




Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Visitors can see West Indian manatees every day of the year from the park’s underwater observatory in the main spring. The park showcases native Florida wildlife, including manatees, black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, American crocodiles, and river otters. Manatee programs are offered three times daily. At the Wildlife Encounter programs, snakes and other native animals are featured. Recreational opportunities include picnicking, nature study, and bird-watching. The park features a children’s education center, providing hands-on experiences about Florida’s environment. Transportation from the visitor center on U.S. 19 to the West Entrance is available by tram or boat. The park has two concessionaire-operated gift shops and a concessionaire-operated café with a selection of beverages and snacks. Plan 3 1/2 to 4 hours to tour the park. Check the Ranger Programs for a list of interactive events throughout the park each day.




This beautiful spring is named for Juan Ponce de León, who led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513-as legend has it-in search of the “fountain of youth.” Visitors might well regain their youth by taking a dip in the cool, clear waters of Ponce de Leon Springs where the water temperature remains a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The main spring is a convergence of two underground water flows, and produces 14 million gallons of water daily. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along two self-guided nature trails through a lush, hardwood forest and learn about the local ecology and wildlife. Rangers also conduct seasonal guided walks. Picnicking is a popular activity at the park; grills and pavilions are available. Anglers will enjoy fishing for catfish, largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and panfish.






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