With more than 70 springs, Crystal River/Kings Bay is the largest natural winter refuge for manatees on the Florida Gulf Coast.
About the Springs
Crystal River/Kings Bay is the second largest springs group in Florida, with more than 70 springs scattered within the 600-acre bay. The springs are the headwaters of Crystal River, which is a short, tidal river that flows seven miles from the headsprings to where it meets the Gulf of Mexico at Crystal Bay in Citrus County, Florida.
The Crystal River/Kings Bay springshed, which contributes groundwater to Crystal River/Kings Bay Springs, is approximately 250 square miles of urbanized and agricultural lands, forested uplands and wetlands. This springshed covers much of Citrus County.
Extensive dredge-and-fill activities beginning in the 1960s altered much of Kings Bay and portions of the Crystal River shorelines. Numerous sea walls and dead-end canals were created to provide waterfront residential and commercial real estate. These activities changed water circulation and reduced the amount of natural wetlands. Although nitrate levels are relatively low, portions of Kings Bay are dominated by unhealthy Lyngbya algae. Large amounts of algae growth can cause reduced water clarity and extreme fluctuations in dissolved oxygen, which is stressful to aquatic life.
Crystal River/Kings Bay is unique because it flows into a large, open bay. The system is the largest natural winter refuge for manatees on the Florida Gulf Coast and includes seven Manatee Sanctuaries. It was designated an Outstanding Florida Water by the state of Florida and a Surface Water Improvement and Management priority water body by the District.
- Three Sisters Springs Bank Stabilization Project (completed)
- Hunter Springs Park Living Shoreline Project (completed)
- Hunter Springs/Hunters Cove Revegetation Project (completed)
- Three Sisters Springs Wetland Treatment Project (completed)
- City of Crystal River to Duke Energy Reclaimed Water Project (completed)
- Hunter Springs Water Quality Improvement Project (ongoing)
- Crystal River/Kings Bay Vegetative Mapping (completed)
- Kings Bay Stormwater Project — Phase 1 (approved)