Category Archives: Pollution

Hernando County Fertilizer Ordinance

Hernando County has a “black out period” from January 1st thru March 31st in which lawns may not be fertilized.

fertilizeThis local ordinance came about as a measure to protect the Weeki Wachee River. As this waterway’s watershed extends to a large part of the county, run-off will greatly affect the quality of its water.
Currently, the Weeki Wachee River exceeds its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) of nitrates. The source of that can be found in the over-application of fertilizers. This results in excessive algae growth and can ultimately lead to lower oxygen levels in the water and potential fish-kill.

This river is dear to us locals and complying with the ordinance is a simple way to improve our environment and secure a better future for this unique spring-fed river.

The full ordinance is available at extension.hernandocounty.us.

New Reclaimed Water Transmission Line Helps The Springs

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Water Management Districts have funded 26 springs projects with more than $40 million, that will result in $82 million for spring improvement projects after local matching funds.

Hernando County will invest $6 million in a reclaimed water transmission line along US19 that will provide up to 1.7 million gallons of reclaimed water per day to the Timber Pines Subdivision and Golf Course for irrigation use. Both Hernando County and SFWMD will each contribute an extra $3 million, for a grand total of $12 million.

The Weeki Wachee Springs springshed should benefit from this project through reduced nutrients and reduced potable water use. It will enable long-term sustained growth in the area by reducing environmental pressure on the Weeki Wachee River and Springs.

The project should be completed by spring of 2017.

Prescribed Fires

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of November through March at Annuteliga Hammock in Hernando County. The property is comprised of several blocks and is located east of US Highway 19 and north of Centralia Road and south of the county line. Approximately 300 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

The District will also be conducting prescribed burns at Weekiwachee Preserve in Hernando County. The property is located west of US Highway 19 between Spring Hill and Hernando Beach. Approximately 400 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.

November 4, 2014 News Release

MAY 31 – Weeki Wachee Springs Cleanup

The Rotary Clubs of Spring Hill and Brooksville will have a lyngbya cleanup on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 5 p.m. at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee.
Volunteers are needed for this community effort to get rid of the algae from the water. Special rakes are used to remove the algae in a careful manner. Each rake full of lyngbya helps clean the water of pollutants. Lyngbya is an algae that can cause serious damage to the springs and its inhabitants. It interferes with fishing, boating, swimming and the health of manatees and other aquatic life.
The cleanup will last about two hours. For information about the project, contact Doug Brainard at (352) 442-1156 or brainarddoug@gmail.com.

Weeki Wachee Preserve Open For Development?

AT THE MAY 27 HERNANDO COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS’ MEETING A NEW NATURE COAST EDUCATION AND TOURISM CENTER WAS PROPOSED WITH THE WEEKI WACHEE PRESERVE AS THE FUTURE LOCATION.

0010This preserve is known for its natural wetland and upland communities and is currently open to the public for hiking, biking, fishing, bird watching, canoeing and kayaking. Uniquely located close to Hernando’s population center, it offers easy access to a completely natural experience, that has very limited motor access.
Continue reading Weeki Wachee Preserve Open For Development?

Improving Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

With the spring more popular every year and attendance increasing steadily from 140,000 visitors in 2008 to 270,000 in 2013, the Florida Park Service recently published a master plan for Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, featuring nearly $8.7 million in improvements to the vintage Hernando County tourist attraction and Buccaneer Bay, the water park adjacent to the spring.

Continue reading Improving Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Chassahowitzka Clean Up

Chassahowitzka Springs, like Weeki Wachee Springs, is one of thirty-three first-magnitude springs in Florida. Many of these springs suffer from decades of ever increasing pollution from fertilizers, chemicals and leaking septic systems, that flow into these environmentally sensitive areas. This accumulation impacts the quality of the water and encourages plants like the lyngbya algae to overtake native species such as the useful eel grass.

lyngbya algaeA state-funded five-month cleanup program removed approx. 3000 cubic yards of sediments during the 2013 summer season from the 25 feet deep springs. The manatee that feed in the Chassahowitzka Springs during the colder winter months, can expect crystal clear water and an abundant supply of the replanted eel grasses, they like so much.

Weeki Wachee Springs cleanupSimilar attempts are going on regularly in Weeki Wachee Springs, where volunteers get rid of the invasive lyngbya algae with rakes.

Weeki Wachee Springs Algae Removal

SWFWMD Partners with Local Rotary Clubs to Remove Algae from Weeki Wachee Springs

The Southwest Florida Water Management District is partnering with the Rotary Clubs of Spring Hill Central and Brooksville to remove Lyngbya algae from the waters of Weeki Wachee Springs.

lyngbya algaeThis coordinated effort will take place on Saturday, July 20 from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, located at the intersection of State Road 50 and Highway 19 in Spring Hill.

Volunteers using special rakes will stand in water up to waist deep and remove the algae. The algae will then be placed onto kayaks and a pontoon boat and taken to land to be used for fertilizer at other locations.

“This project is important for the District to maintain prior restoration efforts and ensure those restored areas continue to grow and thrive,” said Chris Anastasiou Ph.D., senior scientist with the District. “This effort is also important because it gives ownership of this world-class resource to the local community.”

In 2009, the District completed a restoration project at Weeki Wachee, where divers removed approximately 6,130 cubic yards of sediment from the spring vent to the vicinity of the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park’s boat dock. Divers used hand vacuums created specifically for this project to remove everything from muck, Lyngbya and trash.

Lyngbya is an invasive algae that grows and spreads rapidly. It attaches itself to plants and the bottoms of water bodies, forming large mats. These mats grow and then break off, spreading to other areas. Lyngbya crowds out native vegetation and disrupts the natural filtration process as well as decreases the amount of good habitat for fish nurseries.

Source: Southwest Florida Water Management District News Release

Weeki Wachee River choked by slimy algae.

Weeki Wachee Spring and the Weeki Wachee River support a complex freshwater aquatic ecosystem that is vitally important as both a cultural and economic resource for Florida.

Unfortunately, Florida’s iconic Mermaid Spring and its river to the Gulf are being choked by slimy algae. Take action now to protect Florida’s rivers and streams. High levels of nitrogen pollution are to blame for the explosion of algae blooms.

As it stands now, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) does not require major sources of this pollution to reduce their spring-killing effluent. It is beyond time for a mandate to preserve and protect these critical resources for all Floridians and to reverse the degradation of our most iconic treasures.

The DEP is accepting public comments through Friday, July 5th, on a draft plan to restore the Spring and River (this plan, required under the Clean Water Act, is known as a Total Maximum Daily Load, or “TMDL”). As it is written, this plan is not adequate, as it does not require pollution reduction from surrounding polluters, or even set a protective goal.

Please take action now to let DEP and the Governor know you expect them to do their jobs and protect Florida’s resources! Once you have taken action, forward and share this message with your friends and family. Together, we can help keep Florida flowing.

Cathy Harrelson,
Gulf Restoration Network
HealthyGulf.org
cathyh@healthygulf.org