Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program Unveils "Beemat" Project at Lake Joanna
Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program recently unveiled a new pilot project aimed at improving the water quality in Lake Joanna near Eustis.
This project uses floating wetland mats, known as Beemats, to remove nutrients from the water. The Beemats were created by Steve and Forest Beeman of Beeman's Nursery in New Smyrna Beach.
Adopt-a-Lake Program volunteers, including environmental engineering students Laura Yadon and Michael Grovac, as well as Lake Joanna residents Nancy Bebee, Fred Kurras and Bob Chorvat, installed two Beemats on Lake Joanna. One was installed just off the shoreline at Lake Joanna Park and is approximately 100 square feet. The other mat was placed just inside the inlet canal on the east side of the lake and is approximately 200 square feet.
During Florida's rainy season, lake waters rise above their normal banks, flooding plants along the shallow margin. During dry months, water is drawn down by evaporation and for irrigation, causing aquatic plants to become too dry. Both conditions can kill desirable shoreline plants.
The floating Beemats not only take care of fluctuating water levels, but also produce oxygen, take nutrients and pesticides out of the water, and provide habitat for wildlife, Forest Beeman said.
"Beemats are islands," Steve Beeman said. They rise and fall with water level, giving plant roots continuous access to nutrients in water, regardless of water level changes.
In this system, closed cell foam mats are used to keep native aquatic plants including pickerel weed, arrowhead, canna and soft rush afloat while they remove nutrients from the water. The nutrients are then stored in the plant's tissues.
Once they have reached maximum nutrient removal, the plants are harvested from the mats, where they are composted and recycled into organic fertilizer.
Test results have shown that Beemats, paired with the most effective plants, can remove 1,943 pounds of nitrogen and 164 pounds of phosphorus per acre per year.
The Adopt-a-Lake Program received funding for this project through a grant from the Florida Lake Management Society.
For more information about the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program or the Beemats project, contact Cathie Catasus.
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