CRYSTAL RIVER, FLA. - Thick, greenish-black slime an algae called Lyngbya continues to smother native vegetation in Kings Bay, blanketing the springs' sandy bottom and impacting the ecosystem and aquatic wildlife.
For Citrus County's natural springs, the overgrowth of algae is a communitywide problem. For Duke Energy's Elizabeth Pielow, the problem is personal.
"I grew up one block from these springs, and my mother still lives there," she said. "Its where my grandmother taught my sisters, brother and me how to swim. I remember how the springs used to look. Nice. Clear. Sandy bottoms. I would like to see the springs and Kings Bay restored to their natural beauty."
That's why Pielow, a technician at Duke Energy's Crystal River coal-fired power plant, and more than 100 of her co-workers, will converge at Hunter Springs Park on June 4, 2015. Their mission: Remove algae from the bottom of Kings Bay as part of the "One Rake at a Time" community initiative and surpass their 2013 record.
"Duke Energy brings extra muscle to our algae cleanup and helped us remove three trailer loads, or 12 tons, in 2013, setting a record for the most collected in one day," said Art Jones, who leads the One Rake at a Time initiative. "I love how people from all parts of our community join together for a common good and take pride in collective ownership of our beautiful springs. Duke Energy employees are important members of our community; they are our friends and neighbors."
With rakes in hand, volunteers will wade in waist- and chest-deep water uprooting the algae, loading it onto trailers and hauling it to a composting site to dry. A local nonprofit will then reuse the algae as fertilizer.
"One of the least glamorous tasks is forking the Lyngbya from the loaded pontoon boats onto the trailer in the hot sun, while the rest of us are in the cool water," chuckled Greg Baker, a work management planner at the Crystal River power plant. "But it's great being out there with co-workers, especially for an important community project like this. These events show our commitment to the communities we live in. We want to make a positive impact on our environment. We want our children and grandchildren to have a safe place to live and play."
Media photo opportunity
Who: More than 100 Duke Energy employees throughout Florida
What: Duke Energy In Action volunteer event to remove Lyngbya algae from the bottom of Kings Bay as part of the One Rake at a Time initiative
When: Thursday, June 4, 2015 | 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Hunter Springs Park | 104 NE First Ave., Crystal River
For details about the One Rake at a Time initiative, go to http://savecrystalriver.com/our-community/.
Duke Energy Florida
Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation providing about 9,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.
With its Florida regional headquarters located in St. Petersburg, Fla., Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with approximately $121 billion in total assets. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.3 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Its commercial power and international energy business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.