Restoration of Chassahowitzska Springs Topic of Today’s Meeting

Oct. 2, 2014

~Department takes input on restoration goals for Chassahowitzka Springs~

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is holding a meeting today to further the development of water quality restoration goals for the Chassahowitzka spring system. The restoration goals will address excess nutrients in the water, specifically nitrogen. The restoration goals will act as the foundation for the next step in the process, identification of restoration projects and development of a restoration plan.

“Data supplied by local stakeholders has been integral to the development of these restoration goals,” said Tom Frick, director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “We would like to thank those who have contributed for their environmental leadership.”

The restoration goal under development is known as a TMDL, or total maximum daily load. The TMDL defines the maximum amount of pollutants that may be present in the waterbody in order for water quality to meet state standards. At this meeting, DEP representatives discussed the draft TMDL for the spring system and reviewed the schedule for finalizing and adopting the restoration goal.

Nutrients like nitrogen naturally exist in the water and support the growth of aquatic plants, which provide food for the rest of the ecosystem. When too much nitrogen is present in the environment; however, rapid algal growth can occur. Algal blooms and algal mats can cause issues such as habitat smothering and oxygen depletion in the water, as well as inhibiting navigation and reducing the aesthetic value of clear springs and spring runs.

The restoration goals cover Chassahowitzka Springs, Crab Creek Spring, Chassahowitzka River-Baird Creek, Baird Springs, Ruth Spring and Beteejay Springs. In particular, Chassahowitzka Springs and Crab Creek Spring serve as the headwaters for the Chassahowitzka River, an Outstanding Florida Water. The Chassahowitzka River serves as a habitat for hundreds of native species including the endangered West Indian manatee. The Chassahowitzka spring system supports a complex aquatic ecosystem and acts as an important cultural and economic resource for the state.

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