When you think of an industry like health care, transportation, or energy, you think of a well-oiled, complex system that evaluates its economic benefit in terms of jobs created, quality of the product, and other economic benchmarks.
Kings Bay is an enormous, productive industry – a driving economic engine for Citrus County. Like any other system, each part—rivers, springs, forests, animals, people and so on—has a role to ensure that the whole machine works well.
The quality of life and economy of Citrus County depends on a healthy and vibrant Kings Bay. This natural treasure defines our region, provides recreation and beauty, and pumps nearly $200 million into our community annually. Kings Bay, Crystal River and our springs could be a growth industry as we improve water quality through restoration.
Restoring Kings Bay doesn’t hinder our economic growth. Restoring Kings Bay can support livelihoods and pay tremendous economic returns. The waters of Kings Bay provide water and air filtration, food, climate regulation, recreation, and aesthetic value. Investing in clean water creates jobs, generates economic activity, and saves money in the long run by fixing issues now that won’t be bigger issues later.
Millions of pounds of fish, oysters, scallops, shrimp, and blue and stone crabs are harvested each year from Kings Bay. It’s not just the boats, captains and crew that make money. Those who service the industry with repairs and fuel, buying or preparing fresh seafood products and transporting the product elsewhere. When you think about it, there are a lot of jobs affected. The maintenance of water quality and nutrient levels that affect clarity is vital to the protection of the commercial fishing industry.
Beautiful, healthy natural areas play a vital role in attracting people to live, work, retire and recreate.An EPA study indicated that clean water can increase the value of a single family home 4,000 feet or closer to the shoreline by up to 25 percent. Buying or selling homes, condos and apartments is affected by the quality of and access to outdoor recreation. If you don’t think so, check out the articles about blue green algae in Martin County over the July 4 weekend in summer 2016. The articles directly address impacts to business and to those trying to buy or sell homes.
The availability of a variety of safe and pleasant landscapes—such as clean water and healthy shorelines—encourage ecotourism, outdoor sports, fishing, wildlife watching, etc. Loss of water quality reduces the ability of the community to attract visitors interested in recreational boating and fishing. Consider these businesses: scallop season, stone crab season, charter fishing, and manatee viewing. A reduction in visitors directly affects jobs at local restaurants and hotels, boat, canoe and kayak rentals, charter boats and their feeder businesses, fuel supplies, marinas, tour operators, grocers and more.
Restoring clean water will not just benefit us—it will benefit our children, future generations, and wildlife. If we don’t keep making progress, we’ll continue to have low water clarity, lost habitat, and fewer jobs—at a huge cost to society. Efforts to delay restoration of Kings Bay threaten its value as an economic driver and exacerbate the economic growth.