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


~ Scientifically derived pollutant 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 Kings Bay and five of its springs.

"We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for their leadership and support of this the important restoration work done by the department,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “Whether for Kings Bay and its springs or other water bodies throughout Florida, the state’s world-class scientists ensure restoration moves forward aggressively and 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.”

The restoration goals, known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), define the pollutant reductions necessary to meet the water quality standards, which protect human health and aquatic life. For Kings Bay, the department is defining limits for total nitrogen and total phosphorus, while the targets for the springs limit nitrate and phosphate. These scientifically derived restoration goals will be the focal point for long-term restoration plans DEP will develop in cooperation with stakeholders and the public. 

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are naturally present in surface waters, and they are necessary for the plants and animals living there. However, excess levels of nutrients cause an imbalance in the ecosystem. This is the case in many springs across Florida, and as a result algal mats and other problems have developed. The primary pollutant contributors to the Kings Bay system include wastewater spray fields, septic tanks and stormwater runoff, which contains fertilizers from lawns, home gardens, golf courses and agricultural operations.

The department also recently committed more than $1.1 million to help fund a reclaimed water project that will send up to 750,000 gallons per day of reclaimed water from the Crystal River wastewater treatment plant to the Duke Energy power complex. Redirecting the reclaimed water to Duke Energy rather than discharging it to a spray field will reduce nutrient pollution reaching the spring shed by an estimated 28 percent. Additionally, utilizing reclaimed water at the Duke Energy power complex rather than using potable groundwater will reduce strain on freshwater resources and increase spring flow into Kings Bay.

The adopted restoration goals for Kings Bay along with those for Weeki Wachee 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 springsheds including 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.

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.