The springs found in northern Florida are a great place to get away from all of the stresses of college. The chilly water is always refreshing and provides glorious relief from the Florida heat. The flow of the springs creates a cheap, lazy river that rivals the prices of any water park. Yet, the trash that accumulates in and around these springs, especially during holidays, can be sickening. I wouldn't be surprised if over this past weekend a multitude of litter found itself resting on the banks of springs and its connecting rivers.

Any college student can agree that springs, especially those owned privately, are party havens. As long as you can get a tube for your cooler, you are set for a party filled afternoon. These lazy rivers connect to springs which, in turn, connect to a whole system of freshwater found between the spaces of rocks underneath the surface of Florida. The Floridian aquifer expands from across Florida, up into the bottom of Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi. The Floridian aquifer supplies water for us to drink, grow food and so much more. Truly, we depend on this natural resource in order to live our lives happily. Littering is a big deal, not just because it is not aesthetically pleasing, but also because it pollutes the water.

This is such a major problem because drinkable freshwater makes up a very small percentage of all the water on the planet. While water is technically a renewable resource, the rate at which we consume water from the aquifer far surpasses the replenishing rate. With that in mind, it is alarming that this resource is not treated with more respect. Arguably, this lack of respect is due to the fact that we do not see its value. We charge more money for diamonds, which are not inherently valuable, than the water we drink. Most people can easily access clean water to drink by turning on their sink. Sometimes, people just let the water run without thinking twice about it.

This problem of littering in and around springs demonstrates that we do not appreciate this natural resource as much as we should. Springs have so much more value than just places for recreation. Everyone who goes to springs, not just college students, needs to treat springs for what they are: a life-giving resource that our state just happens to have conveniently under our feet. It is a blessing that demands our attention and our protection. So, please think about everything you put at risk before you throw your bottles and cans into the spring. Everyone will thank you for it.

If you want to learn more about springs:

If you want to help springs near Gainesville, check out the volunteering opportunities at the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute: