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Rotary will ask for a handshake promise

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By Claude Lewis

FANNING SPRINGS - Being a relatively new outfit, the Fanning and Manatee Springs Working Group is still learning to walk before it can ultimately run wild with its message of springs protection.

Wednesday, May 7, was only the second quarterly meeting of the group, which was formed by concerned folks from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Department of Environment Protection.

While Working Group coordinator Carol Lippincott and others are still mapping out methods of attack, one group - the Chiefland Rotary - already has a plan that it wants to put into motion in the near future.

It's called the "Springs Promise" - a handshake deal between the Rotary and homeowners that the latter will adhere to three basic rules that will help ensure better water quality.

Chiefland Rotary's Stoney Smith, a businessman who also sits on the Fanning Springs City Commission, revealed the planned recruiting drive at the May 7 meeting at Fanning Springs City Hall.

"We'll be seeking promises from homeowners to protect the springshed," Smith said. "They'll donate $50 and get a hand-made yard marker saying that they made the promise."

The three promises are:

1. I will use less fertilizer, no fertlizer or slow-release fertilizer on my lawn.

2. I will consider having my septic tank inspected and pumped every five years.

3. I will write a letter to my county commissioner and/or city councilman to let them know I support protecting the Springs.

The promises are designed to help protect the Springs from damaging nitrates.

Excessive nitrates have been fingered as a leading pollutant of spring water.

A number of springs in Florida have been closed to the public because they are too contaminated. They include springs in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Volusia and even Taylor County.

The Rotary's "Springs Promise" has a two-fold mission. The first, of course, helps the water quality of the Fanning and Manatee springs.

The second part aims to help deliver clean drinking water to a third-world country.

For each $50 contribution, Rotarians will add an additional $175 to go toward drilling a well for a village in need.

Studies reveal 6,000 children worldwide die from water-borne illnesses and contamination.

The Chiefland Rotary's "Springs Promise" plan mirrors a similar plan already implemented by the Rotary Club of Lake City. That "Promise" involves protection of Ichetucknee Springs and River.