There are three first magnitude springs in Citrus County. The Homosassa River is one of them and is in terrible trouble from decades of manmade attacks.
One of the major enemies is Lyngbya, a nasty, green slimy algae that has covered the river bottom, especially at the headsprings and has strangled many vents that allow fresh water to flow into the river from the aquifer. Lyngbya’s friend is “nutrients,” essentially nitrogen that is poured into the river from septic seepage and lawn fertilization.
The Homosassa River Restoration Project (HRRP) was citizen-created to address this disaster and has been successful in having vacuumed the headsprings area of tons of this mess and has seen successful renewal of aquatic plants and fish in the past year.
But abruptly, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed additional funding in this year’s budget to continue this much needed environmental project. State Rep. Dr. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, has been a proponent for this restoration effort since its inception. He’s had to be delicate about his efforts and has had to tiptoe around the governor’s veto due to the response the governor has shown to those who have differing opinions.
The governor vetoed $10 million for continued funding for the HRRP’s project, and Dr. Massullo attempted a workaround by reducing the request to $4 million. He whiffed his bat on this request also. Strike two.
But the representative has shown he’s nothing if not dogged. Standing up in the plate, he’s looking for additional ways to support the vacuuming efforts. According to Adele Hembree, Dr. Massullo’s legislative aide, he is searching for additional funding sources through the Department of Environmental Protection.
Steve Minguy, the HRRP’s president, says he has the infrastructure in place to continue the fight against this deadly algae and is hopeful that Dr. Massullo is successful. “I just need the funding,” Minguy said.
There has never been a doubt that funding is critical. The vacuuming began in 2021, and Minguy says the HRRP will run out of money to continue the project by Nov. 15 of this year, and won’t be able to continue the vacuuming of new areas of the river and maintenance of already vacuumed portions when the season reopens in April 2023.
We support the continued endeavors of Rep. Massullo. He has shown he is vested in Citrus County and the community projects to restore the much-abused environment, including the restoration of the Homosassa River. We do not feel he will strike out in his efforts.