FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Apr. 23, 2014
DEP HOSTS FIRST IN A SERIES OF MEETINGS TO FORM KINGS BAY RESTORATION PLAN
~Department reviews potential projects to improve Kings Bay water quality~
CRYSTAL RIVER – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection engaged local governments, scientists, environmentalists, agricultural operators and other stakeholders today in the first meeting designed to develop a restoration plan for Kings Bay. The department has already adopted water quality restoration goals to address nutrient pollution in Kings Bay and five of its springs. Establishing these goals allowed the department to proceed to developing restoration programs and projects.
“Kings Bay represents one of Florida’s valuable water resources at risk,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “It is imperative we bring stakeholders together regularly to learn about the issues, develop restoration project options and link this effort with other ongoing protection programs.”
This meeting represents the first in a series in order to incorporate public involvement in the development of the Kings Bay restoration plan. Before developing a restoration plan, the department defines the maximum amount of pollutants that may be present in a water body for it to be considered healthy. Today the department reviewed the Kings Bay restoration goal and outlined the milestones for developing the restoration plan, or Basin Management Action Plan. The department also identified the potential sources of pollution in the area, such as septic tanks, fertilizer and animal waste.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District has been very involved in the restoration of Kings Bay. At the meeting water management district staff explained the ecological issues driving the bay, as well as introduced their many ongoing and proposed restoration projects. Most notably, the district is cooperating with Duke Energy to send up to 750,000 gallons daily of highly treated reclaimed water from the Crystal River wastewater plant to the Duke Energy Citrus County Power Complex. Even highly treated water contains some nitrogen, and redirecting this reclaimed supply is expected to reduce nitrate pollutants in the area by 16 percent as well as significantly reduce strain on the area’s groundwater supply. The project is projected to break ground this month.
Kings Bay is the sixth largest spring system in Florida and is adjacent to the City of Crystal River. The spring system constitutes a vital cultural and economic resource for the state. Kings Bay is also the largest winter refuge for manatees on the Florida Gulf Coast and is considered a National Wildlife Refuge. It is a popular ecotourism destination for wildlife viewing, diving, snorkeling, fishing and boating. The system was designated an Outstanding Florida Water by the state of Florida.
Stakeholder meetings will be held monthly throughout the restoration plan development process. For more information about DEP’s water quality protection and restoration programs please click here.