Water-Related News

Hurricane Ian update from Lake County Emergency Operations Center

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LAKE COUNTY – Lake County Emergency Management has released new details to help residents prepare for the oncoming storm. Please see below.

New information:

On Sunday, September 25, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency. More information can be found on the County’s website.

In preparation for the possibility of many Lake County public schools being used as storm evacuation shelters this week, the district has tentatively scheduled an early release day for Tuesday, September 27, and two following days of school closures. Parents were notified by phone on Sunday afternoon.

Starting Monday, September 26, limited assistance will be available at three sandbag locations for residents with disabilities. Inmates will be deployed to help pack and load sandbags for those who are unable to do so themselves. Depending on level of assistance needed, residents with disabilities may experience an extended wait time.

The three sandbag locations offering assistance are:

  • Fire Station 10 in Astor
  • The Minneola Athletic Complex
  • P.E.A.R. Park in Leesburg

Across Lake County’s five locations, residents collected more than 3,600 sandbags on Sunday, September 25.

Ongoing information:

The Citizens Information Line (CIL) will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Residents needing information should call 352-253-9999.

Sandbags will be available at five Lake County locations starting September 25 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents must bring their own shovels and are limited to 10 bags of sand per household. No tools will be provided at sand deployment sites and residents are responsible for filling their own bags. Sandbags will only be offered before the storm – no sandbags will be dispensed during storm conditions.

  • Astor Area 23023 State Road 40, Astor
  • East Lake Sports and Community Complex 24809 Wallick Road, Sorrento
  • P.E.A.R. Park 26701 US Hwy 27, Leesburg
  • North Lake Regional Park, 40730 Roger Giles Road, Umatilla
  • Minneola Athletic Complex, 1300 Fosgate Road, Minneola

Health officials issue Blue-Green Algae Bloom Alert for Sawgrass Lake

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EUSTIS – The Florida Department of Health in Lake County (DOH-Lake) has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Sawgrass Lake. This is in response to a water sample taken on 9/8/2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Sawgrass Lake.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae
For more information about Blue-Green Algae, use the link below.

Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program requests picture perfect submissions for their 2023 calendar

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LAKE COUNTY – Submissions have opened for the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program Calendar Contest. The contest is now in its fourteenth year and requesting photos of the area's many lakes for its 2023 Calendar. The calendar contest also supports the Keep Lake Beautiful Program’s (KLB) ongoing mission to engage county residents in beautifying Lake County's natural water resources.

All photos must be of named waterbodies in the county and depict water somewhere in the image. Photos must be in landscape orientation. Entries are limited to five photographs per person. The deadline for entries is Friday, October 28th. Photographs should be submitted to cathie.catasus@lakecountyfl.gov. All photos must include the water body's identification and the photographer's name. If selected as a semi-finalist, a photo release form will be required.

The top 14 photographs submitted will be featured in the 2023 calendar. A panel of volunteers and staff will rate the pictures to select the semi-finalists, and the public will choose the final winners by voting on the Adopt-a-Lake webpage. The top-scoring photograph will earn the opportunity to be featured on the calendar's cover.

Once finalized, the Adopt-a-Lake Calendars will be available for a suggested donation of $5 from the Lake County Public Works Department Water Resource Management Laboratory.

The Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program comprises three components: Water-quality monitoring, public education, and pollution prevention. Volunteers can elect which segments of the program best fit their desired level of participation.

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 Adopt-a-Lake Program, contact Cathie Catasus at 352-253-1659 or e-mail cathie.catasus@lakecountyfl.gov. For more information about the Keep Lake Beautiful Program, visit www.keeplakebeautiful.com or e-mail klb@lakecountyfl.gov.

Florida scientists will study how homeowners affect the water quality of stormwater ponds

When residents purchase "waterfront properties," many don't realize the function of their nearby stormwater ponds and actually cause them harm by removing plants and mowing the grass too close to the edge.

Florida researchers are tasked with identifying the benefits of stormwater ponds, and how homeowners are interacting with them.

A team of scientists with the University of Florida have been granted $1.6 million from the National Science Foundation to study stormwater ponds and the people living around them for the next four years or so across the state. They’ll document environmental, social and economic benefits, collectively called ecosystem services.

“We want to have an ecosystem in there that can function and … reduce that nitrogen and phosphorus from heading out into these natural bodies of water,” Michelle Atkinson, an extension agent in Manatee County for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said. “Are aesthetic preferences impacting those environmental functions? That's what we don't know for sure. We have suspicions. We have our hypothesis, but we want to prove it.”

According to the UF press release, the researchers will conduct field work, focus groups, surveys and data collection both at the state level and in two communities in Manatee and St. Lucie counties that have a large number of stormwater ponds and where algae blooms have been a recent problem. The results could apply to other parts of the country.

Atkinson said she wants people to view these ponds as amenities and put some value to them.

“That’s what we're going to try to do is quantify some of those ecosystem services that our ponds do. By adding plants or managing a different way, can we put a value on those services, something that homeowners will feel important enough to want to protect? And say, ‘yes, let's do this in our community, because it's the right thing to do.’”

She said she hopes management changes come as a result of this study — whether it's voluntary from homeowners, or enforced by government.

Study shows fertilizer ordinances improve water quality (but timing matters)

GAINESVILLE – A new University of Florida study has found that local residential fertilizer ordinances help improve water quality in nearby lakes, but the timing of fertilizer restrictions influences how effective they are.

Using 30 years of water quality data gathered by the UF/IFAS LAKEWATCH program from 1987 to 2018, scientists found that lakes in areas with winter fertilizer bans had the most improvement over time in levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, the main nutrients found in fertilizers.

These lakes also showed larger increases in water clarity and decreases in chlorophyll since the implementation of fertilizer bans. These measurements can also indicate lower nutrient levels, as excess nutrients can feed algae blooms that lead to turbid waters with higher levels of chlorophyll.

“To date, this is the most comprehensive study of fertilizer ordinances’ impact on water quality, not just in Florida but also nationally, and it would not have been possible without the efforts of our LAKEWATCH community scientists,” said Sam Smidt, an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS department of soil, water and ecosystem sciences and the senior author of the study.