Water-Related News

Yes, there are manatees in Lake County

Help Save The Manatees: Increasing Manatee Awareness in the Upper Ocklawaha Basin

A female manatee named “Leesburg” first visited the Harris Chain of Lakes in 2015. She had the distinction of being the first recorded manatee in Lake County. “Leesburg” became a familiar face in many areas around Lake Harris. In the summer of 2017, “Leesburg” gave birth to her first calf, a male our community named “Sunset”. Researchers at Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (CMARI) have been able to track mother and calf plus several other manatees who have come to make Lake County a part of their home.

Unfortunately, with an increase in numbers of manatee visits comes an increase in manatee deaths. “It is with a sad heart that we have learned of the deaths of “Leesburg” and her companion “Trevluc” due to collisions with watercraft”, says Amy Stone, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Lake County Water Authority. “We urge our citizens to stay alert and use care when along the shoreline and narrow waterways as these are the locations frequented by manatees.”

SJRWMD adopts 2020 Minimum Flows and Levels priority list and schedule


Annually updated list protects water bodies from harm

PALATKA — The St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Tuesday adopted the 2020 Minimum Flows and Levels (MFL) priority list, which lays out the agency’s plan for completing and re-evaluating MFLs through 2024.

Establishing minimum flows and levels (MFLs) is an important goal in the District’s work of planning for adequate water supplies for today and for future generations while also protecting the District’s water resources. The District sets MFLs for lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands and springs, updating the list annually.

MFLs define the limits at which further water withdrawals would be significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of an area. Establishing MFLs is a requirement of the state Legislature and is required by the state Comprehensive Plan, the water resources implementation rule (formerly state water policy), and a 1996 governor’s executive order for priority water bodies.

The District has established MFLs on 131 water bodies (104 lakes, 14 springs, 6 rivers, and 7 wetlands). A total of 30 MFLs have been re-evaluated.

To view the 2020 Minimum Flows and Levels priority list and schedule, go to www.sjrwmd.com/static/mfls/2020-draft-MFLsPriorityList.pdf.

Read an in-depth article about the District’s MFL program in the SJRWMD online magazine, StreamLines.

Lakes on the 2020-2024 Priority List include:

  • New
    • Little Wekiva River and associated springs – Seminole/Orange Counties
    • Johns/Avalon/Apopka – Orange/Lake Counties
    • Red Bug – Seminole County
    • Griffin – Seminole County
    • Beauclair, Dora, Eustis, Harris – Lake County
    • East Crystal – Seminole County
  • Re-evaluation
    • Sylvan – Seminole County
    • Apshawa South  – Lake County
    • Wekiva River at SR 46 Bridge  – Seminole/Lake Counties
    • Wekiwa Springs – Seminole/Orange Counties
    • Rock Springs – Orange County
    • Prevatt – Orange County

Habitat restoration at Emeralda Marsh means big improvements for recreation

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the St. Johns River Water Management District have completed a series of management actions designed to enhance fish and wildlife habitat and improve public access at Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area - 3 in Lake County. Restoration efforts have allowed emergent and submersed aquatic vegetation to recolonize and expand, creating outstanding fishing and waterfowl hunting opportunities.

In 2016, the FWC’s Aquatic Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Section and St. Johns River Water Management District undertook a major restoration effort, intended to enhance aquatic habitat and bring back the natural flow of the marsh by reconnecting it to Lake Griffin. These efforts included removing several thousand feet of former muck farm levees, extensive vegetation management including mechanical harvesting and shredding to control floating vegetation mats or tussocks, as well as planting over 3,800 native plants, including cypress trees and bulrush.

An existing boat ramp was improved to provide better recreational access for hunters, anglers and wildlife viewers. Additionally, 100,000 largemouth bass were stocked in this area by the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

“The FWC’s mission is to manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people,” said FWC aquatic habitat biologist Dan Kolterman. “This project exemplifies that mission in action. Not only will fish and wildlife thrive, hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists will be able to enjoy the results of this project for generations.”

To learn more about aquatic habitat conservation in Florida, visit MyFWC.com/AquaticHabitats.

For general waterbody information, fishing forecasts, virtual tours, plant control operation schedules and annual workplans, boat ramp information and more, visit the “What’s Happening on My Lake” website at MyFWC.com/Lake.

Adopt-a-Lake program requests photo submissions for 2021 calendar

Deadline for submissions is October 23rd

TAVARES – As part of Keep Lake Beautiful’s (KLB) ongoing mission for engagement to beautify Lake County, KLB encourages residents to participate in the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program 2021 Calendar Contest. The calendar contest, now in its 12th year, is requesting photographs of Lake County lakes for its 2021 Adopt-a-Lake Calendar. The top 14 photographs, as chosen by a panel of volunteers, will be published in the 2021 calendar.

Once the semi-finalists are selected, online voting will be opened to the public. The top-scoring picture will receive the coveted cover spot.

All photos submitted must be of a Lake County named waterbody and must depict water somewhere in the photo. Each photo must also be shot in landscape (horizontal) mode. Entries are limited to five photos per person and should include the name of the photographer and the body of water pictured. A photo release form will be required if selected as a semi-finalist.

To submit a photo, e-mail ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov, bring a CD to the Water Resource Management Laboratory at 12923 County Landfill Road, Tavares, or mail a CD to Adopt-a-Lake Program, Attn: Cathie Catasus, P.O. Box 7800, Tavares, FL 32778.

The deadline to submit entries is Friday, Oct. 23.

The Adopt-a-Lake calendar will be available at the Water Resource Management Laboratory at the Lake County Public Works Department for a suggested donation of $5, with proceeds benefiting the Adopt-a-Lake Program.

The Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program encourages local civic organizations, individuals, and fraternal and business groups to adopt a segment of a lake’s shoreline. It is comprised of three separate components, including water quality monitoring, public education and pollution prevention, and volunteers can elect which components of the program best fit their desired level of participation.

The Keep Lake Beautiful (KLB) program works closely with the Adopt-a-Lake Program to keep Lake County beautiful by keeping litter out of our lakes. KLB seeks to lead the way to a cleaner and more beautiful Lake County by engaging residents and encouraging community participation. KLB is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit agency that focuses on building and maintaining vibrant communities.

For more information about Lake County’s Adopt-a-Lake Program, the calendar or to become a volunteer, contact Cathie Catasus at 352-253-1659 or ccatasus@lakecountyfl.gov.

Exploring the widespread impacts of ongoing nitrogen pollution

The release of reactive nitrogen into the environment is having severe and ongoing ecosystem, economic, and human health impacts. How can we reduce our nitrogen footprint?

Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients in the environment, but its natural cycling has been significantly altered by human activities, specifically the release of excessive and harmful amounts of nitrogen from various sources including fertilizers, animal and human wastes, fossil fuel combustion, and mining.

Nitrogen Overload: Environmental Degradation, Ramifications, and Economic Costs, a new book recently published by AGU (American Geophysical Union), seeks to improve our understanding of the negative impacts of so much excess reactive nitrogen in the environment.

Visit the link below for a summary of content from the book. In the article the author, Brian G. Katz, a scientist who has spent the past four decades investigating the transport and fate of nitrogen in groundwater, springs, surface waters, and the atmosphere, gives an overview of the main issues.

Governor announces $50M in springs funding

On Friday, Sept. 17th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced $50 million for more than 20 statewide springs restoration projects during a press conference in Weeki Wachee.

Among the projects that will be funded are these:

Northwest Florida Water Management District
$1.1 million to extend central sewer service to the Tara Estates neighborhood located north of Marianna, including abandoning septic tanks proximate to the Chipola River.

Southwest Florida Water Management District
A total of more than $8.3 million for projects in Marion County that will help protect Rainbow Springs, including Burkitt Road Septic to Sewer, Northwest Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion, Oak Bend I-75 Water Quality Improvement and the 180th Avenue Package Plant Abatement.

St. Johns River Water Management District
$1.1 million for the Apopka West Reuse Storage Facility and Reclaimed Water Extension project that will provide nearly 3.48 million gallons per day of reclaimed water, benefiting Wekiwa and Rock springs.

Suwannee River Water Management District
A total of more than $2.3 million for the acquisition of more than 3,600 acres of land to protect springs in Columbia County Grasslands (Ichetucknee Springs), Devil’s Ear Springs Recharge (Ginnie Springs Group), Santa Fe Springs and Sawdust Spring (Sawdust and Devil’s Ear springs). The acquisition of these lands will help improve aquifer recharge potential, enhance recreational opportunities and protect native species.