CRYSTAL RIVER, FL — Human pollution and overuse are seriously impacting crystal clear natural springs. Some are stagnant, others are full of algae. But ecosystems can flip from clean to dirty and back to clean again.
Purifying natural hot springs is challenging, but Sea and Shoreline’s dedicated staff have honed their skills over the past eight years.
“We’ve completely turned this system upside down. We’ve got beautiful, clear water and lots of grass for all the manatees to eat,” said senior environmental manager at Sea and Shoreline. said Jessica Myries. “We restored nearly 90 acres and now have more than 300 acres.”
ABC Action News reporter Michael Palska took Mileys and her team out to sea to watch the last few acres of eelgrass planted as they transitioned from Crystal River to Kings Bay restoration.
When they gave nature a chance, eelgrass took over the algae-dominated system. Ecosystems now filter manure to sustain themselves. But it was a lot of work.
Divers spent hours in the water, first sucking out decades’ worth of mud (eelgrass doesn’t take root in mud), so removing the mud is essential to giving the plants a chance to survive. rice field. Divers also spent hours underwater planting more than 10,000 eelgrass each day.
The stats for this project are staggering.
According to Sea and Shoreline, 450,000 eelgrass were planted by hand. Divers vacuumed out 600 million pounds of mud, cleaning 870 springs in the process and now flowing freely.
“Some of them have been clogged for a very long time and some of these areas have remained stagnant. Yes,’ said Mileys.
Mileys added that the job can be a daunting task.
“We’re in the water for hours. We’re swimming miles every day with a snorkel or air on the surface, and we have to come check the lawn,” he says.
Water pollution, septic tank leaks, development, agriculture, and excess water from aquifers for drinking water all strain the system.
The upcoming Kings Bay restoration project will span approximately 600 acres and will require many more years of hard work. Mileys knows it makes the entire ecosystem better.
“Both manatee tours and eco tours really benefit from this clean water. The Kings Bay project is historic,” he said.
As we saw in our article, A previous report with National Geographic photographer Jason Gully, Crystal clear springs in Florida are under attack. Green algae, pollution, lack of flow and overcrowding are all contributing factors. According to Mileys, Krystal’s river is a true success story and can be replicated.
“It takes a lot of work, but we can get it back,” Miries said. “There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there. But this is one of those great stories of hope. We want to spread that across the state.”
https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/full-circle/saving-our-springs-a-day-with-the-underwater-gardeners-at-sea-and-shoreline Water Gardeners Restoring Florida Fountains