Coastal River Systems
Crystal River/ Kings Bay - Land Use
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
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 1984
|Kings Bay 1999
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
|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