DEP Develops Restoration Goals for Volusia Blue Spring and Run

On March 14, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposed water quality restoration goals for Blue Spring and Blue Spring Run in Volusia County. The restoration goals, known as Total Maximum Daily Loads, will identify nitrate reductions necessary to meet the water quality standards that protect human health and aquatic life.

Volusia Blue is the largest first-magnitude spring on the St. Johns River. The spring is part of Blue Spring State Park which hosts nearly 250,000 visitors peach year who come to swim, kayak, dive, fish and watch the manatees.

“We thank Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature for supporting the important restoration work done by the Department,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “Whether for Volusia Blue Spring or other waterbodies throughout Florida, the state’s world class scientists ensure restoration moves forward aggressively but smartly. Without solid science to tell us the causes of impairment and the needs of our aquatic systems, we would have no basis to guide our restoration efforts.”

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are naturally present in surface waters, and they are necessary for the plants and animals living there. But when excess levels of nutrients cause an imbalance in the ecosystem, which is the current case in many springs across Florida, algal mats and other problems for aquatic life result. The primary nitrogen sources to the Volusia Blue system include several domestic wastewater treatment facilities, one permitted storm sewer system and septic tanks.

“Setting aggressive but achievable restoration goals based on current science is the key to improving the water quality in Florida’s springs, especially for historic and economically important waters like Volusia Blue,” said Tom Frick, Director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration.

Establishing the restoration goals for this waterbody allows the Department to proceed to the next step, developing and implementing restoration plans in cooperation with local stakeholders.

The proposed restoration goals for Volusia Blue, along with those being simultaneously proposed for Weeki Wachee and Kings Bay, will bring the total number of springs within waterbodies that have an adopted or proposed restoration goal to 345; another 37 springs are within waterbodies anticipated to be covered by restoration goals by the end of 2014.

More information on the TMDLs proposed for Volusia Blue can be found on the Department’s website at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl.

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