Restoration of Homasassa Springs Topic of Today’s Meeting

Oct. 2, 2014

~Department takes input on restoration goals for Homosassa Springs~

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

“We are thankful for the time and energy invested by the local stakeholders,” said Tom Frick, director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “The data and knowledge they have contributed has been crucial throughout the development process.”

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 Homosassa Springs, Trotter Springs, Pumphouse Springs, Bluebird Springs and Hidden River Springs. These springs serve as the headwaters for the Homosassa River, an Outstanding Florida Water. In particular, Homosassa Springs form the foundation for Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where visitors can see West Indian manatees every day of the year from the park’s underwater observatory. Each spring supports a complex aquatic ecosystem and acts as an important cultural and economic resource for the state.

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