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Coastal River Systems

Crystal River/ Kings Bay - Land Use

1944
1995 2010

Inhabited by man since about 500 BC, man began to change the natural environment for the worse in the mid 1700s as people of European heritage settled the area. During the 1800s considerable timber harvesting, cattle and horse ranching, and agriculture were taking place. Kings Bay began to be directly affected in the 1900s by the timber harvesting and turpentine distilling. Mining of phosphatesA salt or ester of a phosphoric acid,
an organic compound of phosphoric acid in which the acid group is bound to nitrogen or a carboxyl group in a way that permits useful energy to be released (as in metabolism),
a nutrient used in fertilizers.
and limestoneSedimentary rock composed of carbonate minerals, especially calcium carbonate. Limestone can be created by clastic and non-clastic processes. Clastic limestones are formed from the break up and deposition of shells, coral and other marine organisms by wave-action and ocean currents. Non-clastic limestones can be formed either as a precipitate or by the lithification of coral reefs, marine organism shells, or marine organism skeletons. also began in the area at this time increasing the phosphorous levels seeping into the aquifer.

When we consider the impacts upon Crystal River/Kings Bay it is important to keep in mind that vast majority of water entering the river system comes from the springs, and their springshed extends beyond the area of the surface water watershed. The springshed is fed from the Floridian aquifer and by waters from the east of Citrus County (the Tsala Apopka chain of lakes). The waters do not only come from the rainfall falling in the watershed, which divides westerly surface water flows from easterly flows at the Brookesville ridge (running roughly north to south through Citrus County). In other words those springs are fed from an area extending over more than 240 square miles, or 40% of Citrus County. Moreover, water drawn from the Citrus County well field for distribution reduces the volume of water in the aquifer.

Coincident with the changes in land use, the population of Citrus County is estimated to have risen from less than 9,300 in 1960 to more than 118,000 by the end of the century (year 2000). This was accompanied by conversions of natural land areas (farms, wetlandsNatural land-use type that is covered by salt water or fresh water for some time period. This land type can be identified by the presence of particular plant species or characteristic conditions. and forested areas) to urban uses. Urban use acreage in the designated watershed area alone, increased by more than 16,000 acres in the fifty years to 1995. In the same period upland forests diminished there by almost 16,500 acres.

Not only was the cumulative effect upon the waters of Crystal River/Kings Bay, of this so-called “development” in Citrus County, largely ignored until the late 1900s, more than $2million spent on studies have failed to arrest deterioration in our water qualityA term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose.. Citizens measure water quality degradation in the river system when they experience fewer fish to catch, fewer wildlife to be seen, more vegetation and unsightly, smelly, floating algae impeding navigation, and adverse health impacts of algae toxins and beach closures.

To label local septic system discharge as a cause of poorer water quality in Crystal River/Kings Bay is myopic, when 99% of all waters enter the river run via the springs. Certainly storm water runoff contributes contaminantsSomething that contaminates. and nutrientsAny food, chemical element or compound an organism requires to live, grow, or reproduce., as do poorly designed or badly maintained septic tank systems, and applying too much fertilizer than can be absorbed by plant and grass growth before excesses seep into soils and rocks underneath. Certainly, preventing rain water from entering the aquifer by increasing imperviousNot allowing fluid to pass through areas of roads, car parks, and buildings, by causing more to be evaporated back into the atmosphere before and washing contaminants into the aquifer also reduces water volumes in the aquifer. Periods of droughtA long period without precipitation, delivering less rain to re-stock the aquifer, also reduce volumes in the aquifer and citizens notice this as lake levels fall and show signs of drying up. Examination of nitrate concentrations across Kings Bay shows that the concentrations reduce as measurements are taken further from land areas, indicating that take up of the nutrients to stimulate planktonic, algal and submersed plant growths are taking place. This is no surprise as the resultant reduced water clarity and degradation of water quality has become an ever increasing complaint over the passing years.

The effect of less water velocityThe speed of movement of an object in one direction. in the river run has largely been underestimated as a factor affecting water qualityA term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose.. By taking more water from the aquifer for domestic purposes (washing machines and irrigation of grass areas, for example) even more water is allowed to evaporate back into the atmosphere than that required to re-stock the aquifer. More people means less water going into the aquifer, which lowers the volume trying to leave the aquifer at spring heads, reducing flow rates both across the aquifer and in the river runs. Not only does the slower flowing water collect more nutrientsAny food, chemical element or compound an organism requires to live, grow, or reproduce. and contaminantsSomething that contaminates., by taking more time to pass through soils and rocks containing them, it also allows algae to take hold more easily in the surface waters. Moreover, springs at the periphery of spring systems become blocked either by intent, by developers or by lower flow rates allowing them to silt up, increasing the tendency for more algal infestations to occur. Similar effects arise from the dredge and fill to build waterfront canals, and the over abundance of dense area of submerged aquatic plant growth, as indicated below.

Examination of the following four aerial views of the City of Crystal River and surrounding areas illustrate how urbanizationExpansion of cities into rural regions because of population growth. In most cases, population growth is primarily due to the movement of rural based people to urban areas. This is especially true in Less Developed Countries. has affected one particular river system.

Kings Bay 1944

The first aerial of Kings Bay in 1944 shows the wooded areas which abut Kings Bay to the east, laying to the west of US 19 and Cutler Spur. There are no canals cut in the wooded wetland area. The natural shore line has not been changed by man and housing developments are relatively sparse.

The wetland buffer zones fulfill a filtering and purifying value functionThe expression of an attribute conveying a sense of measurable worth improving water qualityA term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose..

Kings Bay 1960

In the 1960 aerial of the same area, roads have been cut through the forested wetlandsNatural land-use type that is covered by salt water or fresh water for some time period. This land type can be identified by the presence of particular plant species or characteristic conditions. area. There is evidence of additional buildings and what looks to be dredging of a channel for commercial fishing craft. Where Cutler Spur ran through to the north to intersect US 19 there appears a housing infill cutting short Cutler Spur. Portions of the forested area have given over to buildings and the area reduced considerably in size. To the South, the Palm Springs subdivision appears to have been hacked out of a previous wetlands area. Already serious impacts upon water qualityA term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose. would have been precipitated by the removal of wetland buffer zones so close to the river.

Kings Bay 1974

The aerial for Kings Bay 1974 shows the dredging of the pattern of canals completely destroying wetland forested areas to make room for water front homesites. The effects of doing this are several. The dredging creates turbidity that affects the entire river run to impact the estuarineThe region of a tidal mouth of a river seagrass beds. The effect of tidal flows and counter flows into and out of the canals slows the velocityThe speed of movement of an object in one direction. of water flowing in the river run so that algae take hold more easily than otherwise would be the case. The destruction of wetlands removes a massive filter improving the quality of water entering the Bay and the River. Fish and wildlife speciesA taxonomic category subordinate to a genus (or subgenus) and superior to a subspecies or variety, composed of individuals possessing common characters distinguishing them from other categories of individuals of the same taxonomic level. In taxonomic nomenclature, species are designated by the genus name followed by a Latin or Latinized adjective or noun. native to those areas become severely diminished by the loss of habitatThe place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives.. Instead of cleaning the waters entering the bay the area becomes a sink for runoff of excess fertilizer, herbicide and pesticidesA chemical that kills, controls, drives away, or modifies the behavior of pests. applications that cannot be absorbed by the target areas to which they are applied. The pollutantsSomething which contaminates (water, the air, etc.) with harmful or poisonous substances. from vehicular traffic on the US 19 and from use of the shopping area parking have no place to go but directly into the canal system to flow directly into the Bay itself. These affects are compounded by the residential development that may be seen to the east of US 19.

Kings Bay 1984

Kings Bay 1999

xx By the evidence of the 1999 Kings Bay aerial the environmental devastation of the entire area is complete. It is little wonder that the water quality of Crystal River / Kings Bay is as bad as it is. As bad as citizens and visitors find it measuring the water quality degradation when they experience fewer fish to catch, fewer wildlife to be seen, more rogue vegetation and unsightly, smelly, floating algae impeding navigation, and adverse health impacts of algal toxins and beach closures by reason of health hazard.

Similar patterns of changes in land use exist across the watershed and springshed areas in the hinterlands of Citrus County.

Kings Bay 2006

This is not presented here to carp or complain about wrong decisions or lack of care in formulating and executing past policies, largely the result of ignorance, it is an attempt to portray the magnitude and the extent of any endeavors necessary to restore the quality of waters in a balanced ecologyThe study of the factors that influence the distribution and abundance of species., throughout Citrus County. It is a task that cannot be undertaken without exciting the interest and commitment of every citizen in the County, and the awareness of visitors to the beauty and treasure of the place we have chosen to make our home.

News and Views
News Items

November 30, 2013
On environment, shortsightedness costs Florida big.
Scott Maxwell, Taking Names.
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October 9, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2013.
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September 25, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
The Potential for Fuel Cell Prime Power in Japan.
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August 1, 2013
Duke Energy to cancel proposed Levy County nuclear plant.
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May 22, 2013
Fuel Cell Today analysis.
Electrolysers for Renewable Energy Efficiency.
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March 13, 2013
Beyond Electricity: Using Renewables Effectively.
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September 24, 2012
Sewer Systems Legal Filing.
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February 1, 2012
Fuel Cell Today update.
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January 13, 2012
Sewer Agenda.
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December 23, 2011
Scientist: Water account overdrawn.
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Novemver 14, 2011
Submission to the Citrus County Commissioner, 14 November, 2011.
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