Citrus County Springs: Bubbling With Life and Beauty
As The Water Lover's Florida, Citrus County's natural riches and scenic wonders are sustained by the waterways that flow throughout the area. Springs play a vital role in the area's ecosystems, pouring out fresh, clean water that sustains an amazing array of life. Indeed, the area's most famous residents—endangered manatees—thrive in the area's spring formations and spring-fed rivers, and the comparatively warm winter temperatures of the county's spring-enriched waterways attracts North America's largest manatee gathering each winter.
Springs are a product of the Sunshine State's aquifer, the vast, underground limestone that holds water and is the source of nearly two-thirds of Florida's residential water. Rainfall "percolates" down through the soil into the sponge-like limestone, "recharging" the aquifer. Over long periods of time, the slightly acidic water percolating into the limestone dissolves the rock and makes caves and channels through which the water flows like the fingers of an underground river. The combined water flowing through the aquifer and the filtering down from the surface sometimes create points of pressure that break into the surface. When this happens, a spring is born, with fresh water streaming to the surface.
How much water a spring discharges relates to the size of the area that recharges it, the size of the spring opening (or "vent"), and the number of underground channels leading into the spring. The volume of water flowing from a spring is referred to as its "magnitude." Magnitude ranges from more than 64.6 million gallons per day (first magnitude) down to 1 pint per minute (8th magnitude).
All in all, Florida has the largest spring volume of any area on Earth. And the north-central part of the state—including Citrus County—has the most springs, due to the aquifer's close proximity to the surface in this region. Citrus County has many springs of varying magnitudes. Three spring groups, or clusters of springs, in the county have a first-magnitude output: the Crystal River (Kings Bay) group, the Chassahowitzka group and the Homosassa group. (Learn more about vacation activities on our County's springs on the springs page of this website).
Caring for Springs
There are steps that Floridians and guests can take to help keep springs beautiful in Citrus County and beyond. Some ideas include:
- Use less water: Since most people in the state receive their water from the aquifer, lower water consumption means more is available to feed the springs;
- Take care with your lawn: Using native Florida plants requires less water, and avoiding excess fertilizer can help keep waterways pure; and
- Enjoy with care: Springs offer a wide variety of opportunities for recreation, and you can help preserve these resources for future generations by not littering or disturbing native vegetation.