SWFWMD Improves The Canoe Launch to Help Reduce Pollutants.
The District is restoring an area of the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park canoe launch. The restored area will benefit the Weeki Wachee spring system by reducing stormwater pollutants and sediment loading entering the Weeki Wachee River.
Source: Southwest Florida Water Management District
Hernando County has a “black out period” from January 1st thru March 31st in which lawns may not be fertilized.
This 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.
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.
A 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.
Similar attempts are going on regularly in Weeki Wachee Springs, where volunteers get rid of the invasive lyngbya algae with rakes.
On the water at 8 AM to avoid the crowds that appear two hours later. I like to kayak the lower parts of the river first (above the major housing developments around Rogers Park); here, most of the Weeki Wachee is surrounded by Federal and State lands which remain in a natural state.
As an added bonus, on Sunday morning the traffic on nearby roads is minimal, thus little or no traffic noise.
This morning I can hear the silence, when the early rays of sunshine penetrate the canopy. Being quiet is a virtue now; only paddles sliding through the water, and a distant screech of an owl, disturbed by my intrusion in his territory.
My only encounter of a manatee with calf is at the junction with channel 13; they did not approach me, so I was quickly on my way to the Weeki Wachee spring at a distance of about 5 miles.
Except for a few schools of fish and a couple of turtles, no other animals were encountered. Flowering plants can be found throughout the year and today was no exception. Half way upriver, I encounter the first groups of paddlers that enter the river at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Unfortunately, this means an end to my quiet trip, but another hour against a steady flow of water. The water levels are higher lately, probably because of the summer rains and the river is narrowing in many places, where the trees are hanging over the river and maneuvering around half-submerged trees sometimes is a little tricky.