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South Kings Bay

Background

South Kings Bay PhotoSouth Kings Bay once enjoyed a plentiful contribution of fresh waterWater that is relatively free of salts. from local springs, where the Floridian aquifer broaches the land surface. Several of these springs have been deliberately closed by developers or householders. Others have silted up and ceased to function or consequently operate at reduced flow rates. Within memory, the dividing line between fresh and salty water was a few miles downstream in Crystal River beyond the limits of Kings Bay. Now, the dividing line intersects the south shore of Kings Bay, leaving southern areas of Kings Bay on the salty side. Coincident with this intrusion it is reported that insufficient fresh water is reaching the sea grass meadows in the estuarineThe region of a tidal mouth of a river areas of Crystal River.

Plans to sacrifice extensive 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. alongside US 44 West (Fort Island Trail) in the early seventies, to build several hundred condos in the wetlands were thwarted by sustained action of citizens resulting in the land being taken into public ownership as part of the State preserve.

The circulation patterns of the south Kings Bay do not interact with the circulation patterns of the north and east sections of Kings Bay until mixing to the north of Buzzard Island and out flow as Crystal River itself. Ten years ago, south Kings Bay experienced very little if any algal pollution. Substantial areas of eelgrassA marine plant with long ribbon-like leaves. [Zostera marina.], or, a submerged aquatic plant with narrow, grass-like leaves. [Genus Valisneria.] (Valsinaria Americana) were to be seen together with areas of Hydrilla and Nyad.

The Noname storm of 1993 not only introduced concentrationsThe amount of a component in a given area or volume. of salt water into Kings Bay and inundated parts of US 19, it flushed huge quantities of siltMineral particle with a size between 0.004 and 0.06 millimeters in diameter. Also see clay and sand. from from the adjacent wetland areas to coat coves and spring areas with deposits of silt, reducing spring outflows seriously. In Black Spring for example the depth of silt cover around the vent areas exceeded ten inches. The salt water concentrations changed the distribution of submerged aquatic vegetation dramatically.

Algal Infestations

Until about five years ago the region experienced little or no algal infestations. Since then serious algal blooms of several 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. have occurred, identified by The University of Florida as (the toxicPoisonous, a substance that reacts with specific cellular components to kill cells.) Lyngbya, and Spirogyra, Enteromorpha intestinalis, and Anabaena.

Floating algal mats, previously seen only in north Kings Bay canals and Crystal River, began to be encountered, with floating cut plant detritusShed tissues, dead body parts, and waste products of organisms. In most ecosystems, detritus accumulates at the soil surface and other types of surface sediments., in south Kings Bay. Eventually the floating algal mats sank in heavy rains to later bloom in their new locations as benthic mats. These algae eventually over ran areas to displace the grasses so that manatees fed on the hydrilla and Nyad.

However, early in March 2006, an explosive reproduction of an unidentified marinerefers to sea water, to sediments deposited in sea water, or to animals that live in the sea, as opposed to fresh water. algae occurred over an area of more than ten acres of southern Kings Bay including coves and Kings Creek, and into the segregated manatee habitatThe place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives. areas. Efforts to ascertain why the blooms only occurred at that time in the south area of Kings Bay, and not elsewhere in the bay or the river, failed. That event was repeated in March 2007, but with a more extensive spread, with the species identified as the marine alga Chaetomorpha, at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

The increased algal blooms in the area, even indicating a colonization by the algae, can be attributed to water temperature, plentiful sunshine, and a more than adequate supply of necessary nutrientsAny food, chemical element or compound an organism requires to live, grow, or reproduce. issuing from the springs at the slower velocities enabling the algae more easily to take hold.

Effect of canals cut to create waterfontage

Some one hundred and fifty canals have been cut into 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. to facilitate urban development having more valuable water frontage to Crystal River/Kings Bay. Wetland forest and many aquifer vents were eliminated in the process. Turbidity from suspended solids produced by the dredging, settling over time, changed the composition of the river sediments, which had evolved over eons of time supporting a unique submersed plant life tolerant to the mixing of salinesalty; sea water or water nearly as salty as sea water. and salt water. Notwithstanding that, Road systems constructed to serve these urban developments impede historical natural water flows to the river and its embayment. TidalRelating to or affected by tides. saline intrusions now penetrate further from the estuarine areas, and fresh waterWater that is relatively free of salts. counter flows to the estuarineThe region of a tidal mouth of a river sea grass areas have been reduced to impair habitatThe place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives. health there.

Not only has the water purifying effects of the wetlands been denied to the waters, but pollutantsSomething which contaminates (water, the air, etc.) with harmful or poisonous substances. from storms and urban traffic has been allowed to run off directly into the waters. Moreover, the effects of reduced volumes and velocityThe speed of movement of an object in one direction. of spring outflows, caused by allowing much rainfall to evaporate back into the atmosphere from hardened urban surfaces, compounded by increased drawing from the aquifer for urban uses, has resulted in increased nutrient levels and an environment where algae take hold more easily in slower moving waters.

Herbicide use

Add to these adverse effects the impact of herbicide mistreatment of native and beneficial submersed species, contributing a long lasting mineralComponent of rocks. A naturally occurring inorganic solid with a crystalline structure and a specific chemical composition. Over 2,000 types of minerals have been classified. pollution of the sediments, allow harmful exotic plant 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. and harmful algae populations to intrude. The result is a tragic imbalance of the ecological systems of the river.

Needs

The need to allow blocked spring vents once more to flow fresh water to the river and embayment has been earlier advocated. Perhaps the cheapest way to accomplish this may be to drill back down into the aquifer, and, either allow natural out flow or to compensate with auxiliary pumping from the aquifer using solar power. Once this has been conceived it is but a short stretch of the imagination to place a similar unit at the blunt end of every canal to restore flows sacrificed to the urban development.

It is interesting to reflect upon why in May 2007, the incidence of floating algal mats is markedly less than in earlier years, possibilities are:

  1. Marine Chaetomorpha algae may suppress Lyngbya and Enteromorpha - by shielding from sunlight needed for photosynthesisIs the chemical process where plants and some bacteria can capture and organically fix the energy of the sun. This chemical reaction can be described by the following simple equation:
    6CO2 + 6H2O + light energy >>> C6H12O6 + 6O2
    The main product of photosynthesis is a carbohydrate, such as the sugar glucose, and oxygen which is released to the atmosphere. All of the sugar produced in the photosynthetic cells of plants and other organisms is derived from the initial chemical combining of carbon dioxide and water with sunlight. This chemical reaction is catalyzed by chlorophyll acting in concert with other pigment, lipid, sugars, protein, and nucleic acid molecules. Sugars created in photosynthesis can be later converted by the plant to starch for storage, or it can be combined with other sugar molecules to form specialized carbohydrates such as cellulose, or it can be combined with other nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur, to build complex molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Also see chemosynthesis. It is said that photosynthesis gives rise to three quarters of the world supply of oxygen that we breathe.
    / growth?
  2. DroughtA long period without precipitation conditions reduce storm run off allowing reduced nutrientsAny food, chemical element or compound an organism requires to live, grow, or reproduce. in the waters?
  3. Reduced spring flows allow more salinityConcentration of dissolved salts found in a sample of water. Measured as the total amount of dissolved salts in parts per thousand. Seawater has an average salinity of about 34 parts per thousand (ppt), alternatively, measured as Specific Conductance or Specific Conductivity expressed in microSiemens per centimeter (µS/cm) normalized to a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Pure water is reckoned to be 0 µS/cm, and ocean seawater at 50,000 µS/cm. intrusion, unfriendly to fresh waterWater that is relatively free of salts. variants?
  4. Harvesting is inherently more efficient now than before?
  5. It is unlikely that variation in septic tank seepage would account for such a sudden change.
  6. It is unlikely that Manatees now eat algae in preference to SAV.
  7. It is unlikely that fewer nutrientsAny food, chemical element or compound an organism requires to live, grow, or reproduce. find their way into the aquifer and hence also in spring outflows, especially in view of increased vehicular traffic and urban occupation.

Notes:

Several years ago water from these 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 spring systems.

Also, the information recorded for Kings Creek and Black Spring Cove are from the author's personal observations over more than eleven years, and corroborated in discussions with a gentleman Floridian, now in his 94th year, who has fished and dived in these waters extensively over a period of almost forty years.

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