Long-forgotten freshwater spring to be restored - FOX 13 News

Long-forgotten freshwater spring to be restored

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There are new plans to revive a long-forgotten, freshwater spring not far from downtown Tampa. Planners hope it will become a highlight of Tampa's new River Walk.

The water bubbles from the ground only a stone's throw from the Hillsborough River in Tampa Heights.

"That water is 75 degrees year-round," explained environmental scientist Tom Ries of Ecosphere, a company specializing in environmental restoration. "It brings out about 25,000 gallons per day."

THE PAST

Ries says the regional water managers didn't note the spring on its map. He only became aware of it after a nearby property owner mentioned it.

He discovered it's named Ulele Spring, named after an Indian princess who saved the life of a Spanish explorer. Rodney Kite-Powell of the Tampa Bay History Center says it was originally known as Magbee Spring, named for a local judge who fell into disfavor for helping Unionists after the Civil War. He says the spring used to be one of Tampa's main sources of drinking water.

THE FUTURE

Ries says the city of Tampa will contribute $50,000 toward the restoration project, with the remaining $250,000 cost paid for by grants from federal agencies and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Currently, water from the spring flows into the river through an old underground iron pipe. Ries has plans showing an open stream flowing from the spring with two pools before it reaches the river.

The plans show a bridge that will take pedestrians using the River Walk over the stream.

Ries says he expects the warm, fresh water will draw manatees and snook to the area when the project is complete.

He says construction should begin next summer.
 

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