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District joins Washington County, Nestlé Waters North America to protect Cypress Spring

HAVANA – One of the Panhandle’s most picturesque springs will now be protected by a partnership between the Northwest Florida Water Management District, Washington County Commissioners, and Nestlé Waters North America, Inc.

The District, Washington County, and Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) will provide for the long-term protection of Cypress Spring and its surrounding property through a conservation easement. The acquisition covers approximately 300 acres, more than 1,000 linear feet of shoreline along Holmes Creek, and Cypress Spring – a second magnitude spring located in Washington County.

“As a lifelong resident of northwest Florida, I look at the long-term protection of Cypress Spring as one of the more satisfying projects we have undertaken at the District,” said George Roberts, Chairman of the District’s Governing Board. “This is one of the area’s natural treasures and we would not have made this happen without unwavering support from the Governor, the Legislature, DEP, and Nestlé Waters North America.”

After two separate appraisals and an appraisal review, the District agreed to purchase the conservation easement for $812,700, or $2,700 per acre. NWNA will donate the money back to the District to help pay for shoreline restoration projects and to offset ongoing land management costs.

“The residents of Washington County will be thrilled to learn about the long-term protection plan for Cypress Spring,” said Ted Everett, a Washington County resident and member of the District’s Governing Board. “The District, the County, and Nestlé Waters North America are committed to making sure the spring can be enjoyed by visitors for generations to come.”

Funding for the conservation easement comes from Florida’s Springs Restoration and Protection program, administered by the Department of Environmental Protection and water management districts.

“My great-great-grandfather marched through this area with Andrew Jackson in the 1800s,” said State Sen. George Gainer, who represents Washington County. “He fell in love with springs and decided to move his family here. These springs will always be so special to me, which is why I am so appreciative of the work put in by everyone involved in this process.

“When the public and private sectors work together, wonderful results follow – and this is a perfect example of that.”

Cypress Spring has long been one of northwest Florida’s most beautiful springs. Canoeists, kayakers, boaters, swimmers, and nature enthusiasts all make frequent stops at the spring, located roughly a mile east of Highway 79.

“Anyone who has visited Cypress Spring knows it really is one of the most beautiful places in all of Florida,” said State Rep. Brad Drake, who represents Washington County. “The spring itself has already been protected pretty well through the years but now we are making sure it will always be protected so everyone can enjoy its beauty.”

The spring features an average recorded discharge rate of 89.47 cubic feet per second and the main vent measures 26 feet deep.

“This conservation easement is a success for everyone who believes in the importance of protecting the environment, supporting wildlife, and providing recreational opportunities at Florida’s springs,” said Kent Koptiuch, Natural Resource Manager for Nestlé Waters North America. “We are committed to supporting the sustainability of Florida’s resources so we can all enjoy them for years to come.”

The District has already completed shoreline restoration projects at Burnt Sock Landing and Cotton Landing – two recreation areas upstream of Cypress Spring.

“In addition to their recreational value, and being economic drivers for our communities, springs are also the window into the health of our groundwater, the source of 90 percent of drinking water for Floridians,” said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystem restoration. “That is why DEP and the water management districts are committed to ensuring springs protection will remain a priority so that Florida’s future generations will continue to enjoy these unique natural treasures.”