Many sites statewide share the same environmental problems dogging Boca Grande Pass and Charlotte Harbor.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard Jr. and state Sen. Charlie Dean recently cruised Crystal River and some of the 30 springs feeding Kings Bay.
The trip followed the DEP commitment of $1.4 million to a reuse project for the city of Crystal River to reduce nitrate pollutant 16 percent.
The project, jointly funded with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the city, will send 750,000 gallons of highly treated reclaimed water daily from the Crystal River wastewater plant to the Progress Energy Citrus County Power Complex.
SWFMD will invest another $1.1 million in water-quality projects for Kings Bay. The project will increase spring flow into Kings Bay by reducing groundwater pumping at the power complex.
The DEP has directed $11.5 million to restoring Florida's springs over the past three years, said Vinyard.
"We are aggressively identifying Florida's water-quality problems and working with our state and local partners to solve them," he said in a press release.
Kings Bay water quality problems include poor water clarity, destruction of native aquatic vegetation and nuisance algae.
Reduction targets, or total maximum daily loads, for Kings Bay and the other Springs Coast waters impaired by nutrients, will be adopted in 2013. The specific nutrient threshold has yet to be established.
SWFMD, which has jurisdiction on Gasparilla Island, has been working with Kings Bay stakeholders on restoration actions to reduce nutrients to the bay. Projects already under way include:
The Three Sisters Stormwater Treatment Wetland project to intercept and treat stormwater discharged directly into the King's Bay canal system. Nutrients, suspended solids and other contaminants will be removed from stormwater from 135 acres of commercial and residential land in Crystal River.
The Hunter Springs Water Quality Improvement Project will expand stormwater treatment capacity by 40 percent and remove accumulated sediment next to the outfall.
The Kings Bay Park Lagoon Restoration will remove loose rock fragments and organic materials from King's Bay Park and re-vegetate the area with native submerged and emergent plant species. A manatee exclusion zone will be maintained for two years to ensure survival and colonization of the lagoon by the restored vegetation.