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Murky Waters: Pollution and snails figure into death of Florida springs

This story in the Orlando Sentinel reports that researchers are trying to understand what roles high nitrate levels, low dissolved oxygen levels, and the presence or absence of snails play in the health of Florida's springs and their aquatic grasses.

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Many scientists are certain that nitrogen pollution trickling into the environment from sewage and fertilizers is causing algae to smother Florida's famous freshwater springs.

Yet at Alexander Springs, which is shielded from such pollutants by Ocala National Forest and flows with some of the purest water in the state, an underwater garden of undulating grasses has been obliterated by dark mats of stringy algae.

That raises vexing questions about what is really behind this assault on Florida's watery jewels. And the answers could figure into already-heated controversies over septic tanks, a leading source of nitrogen pollution, and nitrogen-pollution limits set last year by the federal government that are now fiercely opposed by industry. ...