Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs.
2nd Edition by Joe Follman and Richard Buchanan

Crystal Springs
Pasco County
Summary of Features
  • Scale—2nd magnitude
  • Scenery—fine
  • How Pristine?—retaining wall around pool, weir/dam at downstream end, someclearing abve spring
  • Swimming—no
  • Protection—privately owned natural preserve, restoration and study efforts,water extraction
  • Access—permission required from land, reachable by canoe/kayak from HillsboroughRiver downstream
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From Zephyrhills, go south on U.S. 301 about 2 miles. Go left (continuingsouth) onto Crystal Springs Road about 2 miles to the spring, which ison the right (west) side of the road.

For maps, latitude/longitude data, driving directions, satellite imagery,and topographic representations as well as weather conditions at this spring,go to Greg Johnson's informative "Florida Springs Database" web site atthe following address:

Spring Description
The spring pool is roughly oval and about 275 by 125 feet in diameter.Water flows from a several vents, sand boils, and openings along the loweredges (outside) of the pool and in the run below the pool.  Thereis a large vent in the south end near a small island. This vent is abou t5 feet de ep, and the flow creates a slick on the surface. A pipe was visibleamid the limestone opening, extracting water from the spring.  Thereis a small ca vern system associated with the spring that has been measuredto 85 feet.  The general pool depth is 3-5 feet, and there is a damat the north end to raise the water level in the pool. There are concreteand riprock retaining walls along the edge of much of the pool. There isa concrete viewing/swimming platform with steps at the south end and awalkway around the pool and over the dam.

Water spills over the dam into the original spring run, where is itimmediately joined by the flow from a creek and forms the headwaters ofthe Hillsborough River.  Water in the spring is clear and blue/green.Aquatic vegetation covers much of the bottom, and fish, wading birds, snakes,and some algae may be seen.  Hardwood, pine, and cypress trees arealong the banks of the spring.  Native plants, including trees, ferns,pickeral, and lizard's tongue, have been planted along the edges of thepool to give it a more natural appearance and to help prevent erosion andrunoff into the pool.

According to Champion & Starks, Crystal Spring provides a largeportion of the flow of the Hillsborough River during the dry season; from1980-1985, 50-80 of the Hillsborough River's flow was from Crystal Spring(May 2001, p. 7).  Nitrate levels in the spring are above naturallyoccurring background levels; citrus fertilization has been identified asthe most likely source of nitrate in the basin (FDCA/DEP, 2002, p. 13).


Local Springiana
The spring was formerly open to the public for swimming and picnicking.Public access was closed in 1996.  The owner proposed an increasein extraction from the spring from 300,000 to 1.8 million gallons per day(and up to 2.6 MGD over ten years).  Crystal Springs is a primarysource of the Hillsborough River, Tampa’s main water supply.  Theproposal elicited strong protests from environmental groups, and the permitrequest (and subsequent appeal) was denied.  The company then scaleddown its requested increase to 600,000 gallons a day.  In April 2002,the SW Florida Water Management District issued a permit allowing up to300,000 gallons a day to be extracted.  In 2000, 106 million gallonswere pumped from the spring for bottled water (Schneider, 2001). An organization called Save Our Springs (SOS) was a leading voice againstthe spring drawdowns, writing petitions and calling for a boycott of Perrierproducts.  The SOS web site may be accessed at the following address:http://www.saveourspringsinc.org/home.htm

The spring pool was first created in the 1920s, when a basin was dynamitedout of the limestone.  Water has been extracted from the pool forgenerations.

Personal Impressions
JF loved visiting Crystal Springs as a boy and young man, taking hisbride-to-be and later his children there to enjoy the clear and cool water. He saw an otter in the run just below the dam on his last visit in theearly 1990s.  At that time, water was being taken from the springbut it was still open to the public.  JF spoke with the preserve manager,who noted the owners are very interested in being good stewards of thesite and allowing groups--especially students--to use the preserve as aplatform for learning and environmental study.

Nearby Springs

Other Nearby Natural Features
Green Swamp Wildlife Management Area
Withlacoochie State Forest
Hillsborough River State Park
Lettuce Lake County Park

Contact Information
Crystal Springs Preserve
P.O. Box 190
Crystal Springs, FL  33524