Citrus County Vision
The Citrus 20/20 organization, in 1995, specified Goals, Objectives, and Actions of a twenty five year
vision statement for Citrus County.
This page is written as a complement to the vision statement to reflect the research undertaken by the
Foundation over the course of the years since 2000.
Unique Environmental Feature
Unique to Citrus County is the confluence of Floridan aquifer artesian water flows in Citrus County
originating as far away as Baker County to the northeast and Polk County to the southeast. Moreover, taking
the path of least resistance, these general flows accelerate and change direction as they join flows in rock
fractures acting as conduits. It is these conduit flows which supply water to the springs and to the coastal
river systems of the County. Research by the Foundation concluded in 2009, showed the forty surviving spring
outlets of Crystal River/Kings Bay are being supplied by two major underground tributary
systems. One enters the southwest sector of Kings Bay and the other the northeast sector of the Bay.
Over millions of years geologic and rain events have given Florida its system of subterranean
so important both to Nature and to Man. Dr Robert O. Vernon recorded his research findings in 1951, with
respect to Citrus and Levy Counties, in Geological Bulletin 33 (GB33) of the Florida Geological Survey. A
pioneering work which is the first written record of the fracture set conduits is beautifully portrayed in
Chapter 3, of the Water Resources Atlas of Florida (WRA), published in 1988, under the auspices of the
Institute of Science and Public Affairs of the Florida State University.
Within the Floridan aquifer system saltier water, being slightly heavier than fresh water, generally sits
underneath the less dense fresh water with a "transition" layer in between. A combination of drought
(restricted rains) and Man's rates of pumping from the aquifer reduce the mass of the fresher waters in
the aquifer such that more of the saltier water surfaces from some of the springs. The proportion of saltier
water in the aquifer is also increased as sea water finds a path via some fracture conduits which extend far
under the Gulf of Mexico emerging from the land surface under the sea. Note that both salt water and
pollutants such as oil spill could find a way into the aquifer using such conduits.
Prevalence of drought periods increase chances of water bodies becoming more salty. This effect of Nature
can change ecosystems by encouraging more salt tolerant species of plants and algae at the expense of fresh
water species. For example, between 2006 and 2009 vigorousblooms of the marine alga Chaetomorpha
overlay the fresh water alga Lyngbya and some submersed aquatic plant species eaten by manatees.
Mechanical harvesting by Man of chaetomorpha removes other species entwined in it. Thus as the County's
population grew over the years and through 2008, percolation into the aquifer of excess nutrients from
greening our surroundings and over pumping water from the aquifer for a similar purpose both served to reduce
aquifer levels and pollute aquifer waters. Harvesting aquatic growth to improve recreation opportunities
reduced manatee food supplies affecting health (weight loss) of that species so important to local eco tourism.
Economic benefit of continuing recreational/ tourism use of the water resource is estimated to be of the order
of $20million a year. Increased (El Nino) rainfall amounts over
the period 2009 into 2010 have reduced salinity measures of waters issuing from Kings Bay springs by between a
half and more than two thirds.
Of course, sources of consumption of the water supply in the aquifer and its contamination are manifold
including agriculture, industry, motor vehicle operation, power stations, all of which are aimed at improving
the well being of Man. Nevertheless, not only is water the thread connecting all ecosystems on earth (WRA p82),
some 93% of Florida's population depends upon groundwater for drinking water (WRA p38). Moreover,
differences in salinity also show between spring outflows
served by conduit tributaries flowing into the southwest sector of Kings Bay compared to those serving the
northeast sector. While reasons for this are not well understood the southwest sector has significantly raised
levels of saltiness compared to those of the northeast sector. More of the salt tolerant algae species are
found in the south west sector and least in the northeast sector. Waters of the southwest sector have been
shown scientifically not to intermingle until in the downstream reaches of Crystal River.
Dr Vernon writes (GB33 p240), "All fresh water in Citrus and Levy Counties is derived directly
from atmospheric precipitation, largely rainfall and dew, which has fallen on these and adjacent counties.
Since this is the entire source, conservation requires that water consumed in Florida does not exceed that
which is readily available from streams, lakes and wells and this usage be small enough to maintain the normal
storage of water on the surface and in the ground thus preventing the lowering of lake levels, and the
decreasing of spring, well and stream flows."
In unconfined karstic areas such as those which predominate
over Citrus County, fluids deposited at the surface tend to percolate down into the aquifer carrying along
excess nutrient and other pollutants. In rain events and flooding rates of percolation are increased
especially as fluids concentrate as they run off of impermeable areas such as buildings, roads and car parks.
(See Urbanization). As such contaminated flows intersect with underground tributary
flows the contaminants are conveyed directly into downstream surface waters via the spring vents.
The coastal river systems of Citrus County, classed as Outstanding Florida Waters, are protected from
degradation from a given standard of water quality at a date certain, under the Florida Anti degradation
Policy (Chapter 62-302.700(8) FAC). Recommended Best Management Practices (see
next page) and the process of application for Environmental Resource Permits are specified as means to
ensure such waters are indeed protected.