Crystal River/Kings Bay, Citrus County

With more than 70 springs, Crystal River/Kings Bay is the largest natural winter refuge for manatees on the Florida Gulf Coast.

Updating the Springs SWIM Plans

At their July 26, 2023 meeting, the Springs Coast Steering Committee approved incremental refinements to the quantifiable objectives within the SWIM Plans for all five first-magnitude spring systems for review by the District Governing Board.

For questions or comments about the quantifiable objective refinements, email by November 1, 2023.

A virtual public meeting is scheduled for October 18, 2023. An overview of the refinements will be presented. Public comment will be accepted at this meeting.

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.

Unique Features

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.

District-Funded Projects