Rainbow Springs is the headwaters of the Rainbow River, which is a short, freshwater river that flows 5.7 miles from the headspring south to the Withlacoochee River.
The Rainbow Springs springshed, which contributes groundwater to Rainbow Springs, is approximately 735 square miles of mostly agricultural lands, forested uplands and growing urban areas. This springshed covers portions of Alachua, Levy and Marion counties.
The Rainbow River and its immediate surroundings were mined for phosphate in the early part of the twentieth century. From 1934 to 1973 the headsprings property was used as a tourist attraction that included glass bottom boats and a monorail through the tree canopy. Today, it is known as the Rainbow Springs State Park.
Although Rainbow Springs has some of the healthiest submerged aquatic vegetation, it has one of the highest nitrate levels among the west-central Florida spring systems. Excess nitrate levels in water can be harmful to aquatic insects, amphibians and fish. If algae have an unlimited source of nitrates, excess growth may occur. Large amounts of algae growth can cause reduced water clarity and extreme fluctuations in dissolved oxygen, which is stressful to aquatic life. In addition, unhealthy Hydrilla and Lyngbya dominate at the lower portion of the river.
The unique ecological attributes of Rainbow Springs and the Rainbow River were recognized by the state of Florida when the system was designated an aquatic preserve and an Outstanding Florida Water. In 1989, the District adopted the Rainbow River as a Surface Water Improvement and Management priority water body.
Rainbow River Algae and Sediment Assessment Project (ongoing)
Rainbow River Aquatic Vegetation Coverage (ongoing)
Marion County – Rolling Hills Stormwater Improvements (completed)
Rainbow Springs Stormwater Retrofit (completed)
Oak Run to JB Ranch Reclaimed Water Main (approved)