Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — Sheli Thomas and her daughter reside in Clermont, simply minutes from Disney, however their magic kingdom is an hour away in Hernando County.

Thomas, who has made it her mission to go to each Florida spring, is perpetually mesmerized by the great thing about Weeki Wachee Springs.

“Pristine Florida. Actual Florida. Crystal clear, stunning water,” she stated. “Simply stunning nature.”

Tuesday, the mother-daughter duo spent the day kayaking the spring-fed river.

“The water was completely beautiful,” Thomas stated afterward as she loaded their boats onto the roof of her SUV. “It did appear [clearer].”

Quickly, the water of the pure attraction might develop into even clearer and cleaner due to what occurred throughout city — on the Spring Hill Water Reclamation Facility — on the similar time Thomas and her daughter paddled the spring run.

Hernando County leaders and others participated in a valve closing ceremony to mark the closure of the power, which is situated behind the Walmart Supercenter on US Freeway 19.

The county closed the power, which had been in operation since 1967 as a result of it was in the end sending water wealthy with nitrogen into spring.

Nitrogen and different varieties of nutrient air pollution could cause algae to bloom in springs like Weeki Wachee.

In line with the Southwest Florida Water Administration District, “giant quantities of algae progress could cause lowered water readability and excessive fluctuations in dissolved oxygen, which is nerve-racking to aquatic life.”

Hernando County stated the water reclaimed on the Spring Hill website will now be despatched to a different facility close to the airport, the place newer expertise will scrub extra of the nitrogen from reclaimed water earlier than it’s used to irrigate a neighborhood golf course.


Utilities Director Gordon Onderdonk estimates that the closure of the Spring Hill facility will take away 46,000 kilos of nitrogen from Weeki Wachee Springs annually.

“The Basin Administration Motion Plan that was created for Weeki Wachee Spring set a 20-year aim of eradicating roughly 195,000 kilos of nitrogen per 12 months,” he defined. “So, that is roughly…one-fourth there simply from eradicating this one venture proper right here, so it’s an amazing accomplishment.”

In line with Onderdonk, closing the valve in Spring Hill is just not the one answer Hernando County is deploying to enhance the spring’s well being.

A separate venture will convert a whole lot of houses not removed from the spring from septic tanks to a central sewer system. In line with the Basin Administration Motion Plan for Weeki Wachee Springs, septic tanks account for the spring’s largest supply of nitrogen air pollution.

Hernando County has additionally requested the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee (FWC) to designate a stretch of the Weeki Wachee River as a Springs Safety Zone.

Such a designation would drastically change what’s and isn’t allowed on the river. If authorized, it will purpose to cease guests from getting out of their boats to swim or stroll on riverbanks, sand level bars, or the river backside by prohibiting just about all banking and anchoring of kayaks, canoes, and different boats alongside a roughly 5-mile span of the river.

The zone can be enforced by county regulation enforcement.

To Thomas, the efforts are each good and unhealthy.

Whereas she applauds efforts to take away nitrogen air pollution from Weeki Wachee Springs, she believes the Spring Safety Zone would hinder her skill to benefit from the pure gem.

“Conservation is necessary,” she stated. “I’m 100% on conservation, however we have now to have the ability to get pleasure from this as a result of in any other case, what’s the aim.”

Others, although, consider the safety zone is required to stop the spring from being beloved to demise.

As ABC Motion Information documented final 12 months, rope swings are bending and snapping timber. Some paddlers are beaching their kayaks, canoes, and boats and, consequently, eroding the fragile river banks. Guests’ ft are trampling and injuring crops each above the water and beneath it, together with eelgrass, which is a treasured meals supply for manatees.

In line with County Administrator Jeff Rogers, the FWC will host one other public enter session in February earlier than making a call on the Springs Safety Zone for Weeki Wachee Springs.

Rogers believes FWC’s determination might are available Could, and he’s assured the company will grant the county’s request for a Springs Safety Zone.

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