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Effort underway to clean up Wekiwa Springs

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A grassroots effort is underway to save the Wekiva River and Wekiwa Springs.

Thousands of people visit Seminole County each year for the springs and its recreation area.
   
The constant 72 degree water temperature makes Wekiwa Springs the perfect swimming hole for Dr. Russell Bryant.

"I swim here every day. It's a wonderful place to swim -- great exercise," said Bryant.

But over the years, the springs have changed.

"It looks like the bottom of a sewer. I like to swim without goggles so I don't have to look at the bottom of it," said Bryant.

Right now the nutrient levels in the water are five times more than what the state considers safe and what used to be a sandy white bottom is now covered with
a mixture of algae, leaves and debris.

It's a result of low water flow caused by people consuming more and more water from the aquifer that supplies the springs.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is supposed to address the problem.

"That hasn't happened. They're resisting that. They're saying, 'We're studying it. We'll get to it.' We don't have that kind of time anymore," said Bill Belleville of the Friends of Wekiva group.

That's why advocates are planning a Speak Up Wekiva rally for Feb. 16 at Wekiwa Springs State Park.

The group says if something isn't done the water quality could become hazardous for visitors, as well as the wildlife that depend on it.

Organizers said they expect more than 2,000 people at the Feb. 16 event.