FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 10, 2014
DEP DEVELOPS SPRINGS RESTORATION GOALS FOR KINGS BAY
~More than $1 million in state funding for reuse project continues restoration efforts ~
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has proposed water quality restoration goals to address nutrient pollution in Kings Bay and five of its springs. The restoration goals, known as Total Maximum Daily Loads, will identify pollutant reductions necessary to meet the water quality standards that protect human health and aquatic life. For Kings Bay, the Department is proposing restoration goals for total nitrogen and total phosphorus, while the targets for the springs address nitrate and phosphate.
Kings Bay and its springs form the sixth largest spring system in Florida, based on discharge. This tidally influenced, spring-fed system is adjacent to the City of Crystal River and is a vital cultural and economic resource for the state. It is home to manatees and dozens of other species, and is a popular ecotourism destination for wildlife viewing, diving, snorkeling, fishing and boating.
“We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for supporting the important restoration work done by the Department,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “Whether for Kings Bay and its springs or other waterbodies throughout Florida, the state’s world class scientists ensure restoration moves forward aggressively, but smartly. Without solid science to tell us the causes of impairment and the needs of our aquatic systems, we would have no basis to guide our restoration efforts.”
Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are naturally present in surface waters, and they are necessary for the plants and animals living there. But when excess levels of nutrients cause an imbalance in the ecosystem, which is the current case in many springs across Florida, algal mats and other problems for aquatic life result. The primary nitrogen sources to the Kings Bay system include wastewater sprayfields, septic tanks and stormwater runoff, including fertilizers from home gardens, lawns, golf courses and agricultural operations.
"After many years in the Florida Legislature and current Chair of the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, my priority is to preserve Florida’s natural resources," said Sen. Charlie Dean. "I applaud the Governor and the Department of Environmental Protection for taking the necessary steps for restoration of Kings Bay and other springs."
Establishing the restoration goals for this waterbody allows the Department to proceed to the next step, developing and implementing restoration plans in cooperation with local stakeholders.
The Department recently provided more than $1.1 million to help fund a reclaimed water project to capture wastewater effluent previously used at a sprayfield and send it to the Progress Energy Power Generation Complex in Citrus County. This project improves the springs in and around Kings Bay by eliminating nearly 1 million gallons per day of sprayfield discharge at the Crystal River Wastewater Treatment Plant and instead enabling the power plant to reduce water consumption. The project will reduce wastewater nutrient loading to the springshed by approximately 16 percent.
The proposed restoration goals for Kings Bay, along with those being simultaneously proposed for Weeki Wachee and Volusia Blue, will bring the total number of springs within waterbodies that have an adopted or proposed restoration goal to 345; another 37 springs are within waterbodies anticipated to be covered by a restoration goal by the end of 2014.
More information on the TMDLs proposed for Kings Bay can be found on the Department's website at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl.