The health of Florida’s beloved spring should improve after the water plant closes.

Hernado County, Fla. – Shelley Thomas and her daughter live in Clermont, just minutes from Disney. Magic Kingdom One hour left in Hernando County.

Thomas, who made it her mission to visit every spring in Florida, was forever fascinated by the beauty of Wicky Wachee Springs.

“Pristine Florida. Real Florida. Crystal clear beautiful water,” she said. “Beautiful nature.”

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

“The water was beautiful,” Thomas said as she loaded their boats onto the roof of her SUV. “It seemed [clearer]He said.

Soon, the waters of a natural attraction could be clearer and cleaner thanks to what happened around town – at the Spring Hill Water Reclamation Facility – at the same time Thomas and her daughter paddled the spring run.

Hernando County leaders and others participated in a valve closing ceremony to close the facility, located behind a Walmart Supercenter on US Highway 19.

The county shut down the facility, which had been operating since 1967, because it was finally sending nitrogen-rich water to the spring.

Nitrogen and other nutrient pollution can cause algae to grow in sources such as wicki wachi.

According to the Southwest Florida Water Management District“High levels of algae growth can reduce water clarity and cause fluctuations in oxygen levels that are stressful for aquatic life.

Hernando County said reclaimed water at the Spring Hill site is now sent to another facility near the airport, where new technologies remove excess nitrogen from the pumped water before it is used to irrigate the local golf course.

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Utilities Director Gordon Onderdonk estimates the closure of the Spring Hill facility will remove 46,000 pounds of nitrogen annually from Wicki Washi Springs.

“The watershed management action plan created for Wicki Wachi Spring set a 20-year goal of removing 195,000 pounds of nitrogen per year,” he explained. “So, that’s roughly… a quarter of a project to get rid of here, so it’s a huge accomplishment.

According to Onderdonk, closing the valve at Spring Hill is not the only solution Hernando County is deploying to improve the health of the spring.

A separate project will convert hundreds of homes not far from the spring from septic tanks to a central sewage system. according to Watershed Management Action Plan for Weeki Wache SpringsSeptic tanks are the largest source of nitrogen pollution.

Hernando County has requested that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) designate the Wicki Washi River as a Springs Conservation Zone.

Such a designation greatly changes what is allowed on the river and what is not. If permitted, all banks and kayaks, canoes and other boats along the approximately 5-mile length of the river will be cleared for the purpose of stopping visitors from getting out of their boats to swim or wade along riverbanks, sandbars or the river bottom.

The zone is enforced by county law enforcement.

For Thomas, the efforts are both good and bad.

While she appreciates the efforts to remove nitrogen pollution from Wikki Washi Springs, she believes the spring’s conservation zone will hinder her ability to enjoy this natural gem.

“It’s important to wait,” she said. “I’m 100% on guard but we have to be able to enjoy it because if not, what’s the point.”

But others believe that a protection zone is needed to prevent the spring from being loved to death.

As reported by ABC Action News last year, rope swings are bending and uprooting trees. Some paddlers are pushing their kayaks, canoes, and boats too close to shore, eroding the fragile riverbanks as a result. Visitors’ feet are trampling and injuring vegetation above and below the water, including eelgrass, a valuable food source for manatees.

County Administrator Jeff Rogers said the FWC will host another public input session in February before making a decision on the Wicki Washi Springs Conservation Zone.

Rogers believes an FWC decision could come in May, and he’s confident the agency will grant the county’s Springs Conservation Zone request.

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