Saltiness of Crystal River/Kings Bay
(See also section on Specific Conductance under The
Critical Influences page).
Measurements of saltiness in Kings Bay made in May and June, 2007, revealed the freshest water in the north
east part of the Bay (Hunter Spring) with a reading of 253 µS/cm. Readings across the Bay to the south
west showed progressive increases to a value of 3124 uS/cm (more than ten times more salty). While the figure
recorded for Black Spring was the huge value of 12,000 µS/cm.
Ocean water has a value of 50,000 µS/cm. The reason for the high figure in Black Spring is most
probably the effect of drought and excessive withdrawals from the aquifer inland reducing the head pressure
such that the salt water underneath the fresher water wells up to the surface. Moreover, citizens are
reporting their domestic wells drying up and well water being determined to be contaminated and undrinkable.
Of course, changing salinities change bio-communities. For example, chaetomorpha sp., a onetime relatively
scarce marine alga in local waters, in March, 2006 and 2007, bloomed aggressively over ten and fifteen acres
in a matter of hours. Although it appears to retard blooms of Lyngbya sp., it costs many thousands of tax
dollars to harvest and allow recreational uses of the waters.
As of this writing, in March , 2009, chaetomorpha blooms have been observed also in 2008 and 2009. What
may be an added consequence of these blooms and their harvesting is the denuding of large areas of submersed
aquatic vegetation - nyad and grasses, and for that matter also exotic species as well. The question arises,
when viewed alongside the weight loss evident in the local manatee population, their reported winter foraging
trips into Salt River, and their early exit to the Gulf in 2009, with marginally acceptable water temperatures
there, that insufficient forage is available for the population wintering in Kings Bay. A cull is certainly
not advocated. However, should the increased saltiness be the ecological change agent, then consideration
could be given to transplanting salt tolerant grass species from the Gulf into the saltier sections in south
western Kings Bay as a source of manatee forage.
Several years ago water from spring outlets from the aquifer was used directly by the Ozello Water
Association for domestic supplies. A spring sampled in Kings Creek was declared fit to drink by any person on
a salt free diet. Now, since March 1991, Ozello Water has had to buy supplies for domestic supply from a
Citrus County well field, due to the salt water intrusion in to local aquifer systems.
Specific conductance readings in 2008 of spring waters are listed here to emphasize differences between SW
and NE spring systems: Fresher waters; (values in microseimens per centimeter) Hunter Spring Run, Three
Sisters Group, Catfish Spring - values 476 - 563. Saltier waters; Black and Tarpon Springs - values 9471 -
7282. Intermediate waters; Parker Island, Manolia Circle - values 1767 - 1225. The distinctions here may
become clearer as sources of waters and fracture set conduits become better understood.