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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us


Scientifically derived nutrient limit paves the way for restoration ~

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection continues to focus on getting the water right. Water quality restoration goals have been adopted for Weeki Wachee Springs.

“Our springs, and particularly iconic Weeki Wachee Springs, are among our state’s prized natural and cultural resources,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “While these cherished resources are an environmental priority, as demonstrated by unprecedented levels of dedicated funding and restoration projects under Governor Rick Scott’s administration, our springs continue to be challenged by nutrients. We will continue implementing plans to restore our springs to their natural state."

The restoration goals, known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), define the pollutant reductions necessary to meet the state’s water quality standards, which protect human health and aquatic life. The department has identified the amount of nitrates that may be present in the spring system. This restoration goal will be the focal point for a long-term restoration plan DEP will develop in cooperation with stakeholders and the public.

“Adoption of the TMDL is the first step in developing long-term restoration strategies to revitalize this exceptional water body,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. "We are now beginning to identify the specific projects and the resources to help us achieve restoration."

Algal blooms and algal mats are a significant problem in Weeki Wachee Springs. Algal growth causes a variety of ecological impairments, including habitat smothering, the production of toxins that can cause human or aquatic health problems and reduced oxygen levels in the water. Algal mats can also foul beaches, inhibit navigation and reduce the aesthetic value of clear springs or spring runs.

The adopted restoration goals for Weeki Wachee along with those for Kings Bay will bring the total number of springs within water bodies that have an adopted or proposed restoration goal to 363. Another 36 restoration goals are under development in springsheds including the Volusia Blue and Homosassa springs systems.

With the support of Governor Rick Scott, twice as much funding has been dedicated exclusively to springs protection than in any other three-year period in Florida’s history.

Weeki Wachee is a historic and world-renowned tourist attraction which has delighted visitors with an iconic underwater mermaid show since 1947. Weeki Wachee State Park is built around the spring and acts as an environmental and recreational resource for the state. Weeki Wachee Springs and several smaller springs form the head of the Weeki Wachee River, a clear, swift water run that flows westward into the Gulf of Mexico.