Poe Spring, Alachua County, March 2017

Poe Spring is in a fairly large Alachua County park (looks great for gatherings) and the boat ramp is just downstream from the spring on the Santa Fe River.  The Santa Fe River is home to loads of tiny springs, some along its banks, but many in the river itself.  As I paddled up to Poe Spring, I came across this little one pumping out water so fast that it looked like it was boiling.  Awesome!

Once I reached Poe Spring, I discovered that its discharge was so low that I would have to portage to get into it.  SRWMD discharge measurements have ranged from about 35 cfs to about 55 cfs over the last couple of years.  It reached its highest measured discharge of 93 cfs in 1973, but it also has virtually stopped flowing at times; in 2012, the discharge was 0.25 cfs in the spring (in the dry season).  The last measurement for January was 48 cfs (http://www.mysuwanneeriver.org/portal/springs.htm), which is clearly a lot higher than 0.

Poe run

The Poe Spring run.  The water was low and I had to drag the kayak upstream, but not very far.

poe boil2

The Poe Spring boil.  I suspect that the large steps allow a lot of people into the spring in the summer, but it was very peaceful on a morning in March.

I read on a website that Poe Spring nitrate concentrations were currently about 0.11 mg/L after having been an order of magnitude higher in the late 1990s.  I must admit that I assumed the nitrate concentration in that report was a typo and further evidence of the problem of relying on the internet for data.  However, I found internet-published SRMWD data for nitrate from 1997 to the present and, in fact, the most recent data point from January 2017  was 0.202 mg/L (http://www.mysuwanneeriver.org/portal/springs.htm).  I am fairly astonished.  I will have to learn more about this spring.  The phosphate, on the other hand, was on the high end (0.08 mg/L) the last time it was measured in 2013, perhaps explaining the abundant algae in the spring.  I have definitely seen thicker algae, but its presence was felt.

Poe algae

The substrate was a patchwork of algae and sand.

The spring vent was blanketed with algae.  Apparently, algae does not deter turtles as I saw several.

The passage into the spring would be difficult for a fish as well as a kayak, I think, and I saw few fish in this spring.  In fact, this spring supported the fewest species and the fewest individuals of any spring that I have sampled so far.  However, I thought that the fast flow was pretty.  Even the bright green algae is pretty flowing in the fast current.

Flow in the shallow run of Poe Spring.

Poe algae2

Algal growth at the boil, both on the bottom, streaming up to the surface, and blanketing the surface near the bank (on the right side of the photo).  The fish in this photo, mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) and bluefin killifish (Lucania goodei) are both super tolerant species and they occur pretty much everywhere.


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