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Water-Related News

Hurricane Irma: Winter Park, Maitland reopen lakes

Winter Park and Maitland reopened their lakes to the public Monday, although other local governments are still warning residents against boating or swimming because of pollution, flooding and debris left by Hurricane Irma.

The storm bombarded Central Florida with wind and rain, overwhelming or disabling many sewage pumping stations while raising water levels and dumping debris everywhere, including in the region’s lakes and ponds.

In Orlando, an alert issued Sept. 8 is still in effect for all of the city’s lakes, though only one major body of water is currently known to be contaminated: Lake Rowena, which was tainted when a sewer pump that lost power during the storm failed, dumping 15,000 gallons of waste.

Seminole County is under a similar advisory. Alan Harris, the county’s emergency manager, cited concerns ranging from runoff from nearby roadways to displaced wildlife and “extremely high” water levels that could prevent boaters from being able to see docks.

“There are just too many hazards right now to lift the advisories,” Harris said. “We do not want to prevent anyone from enjoying the beautiful waterways of Florida, but this may not be the best time.”

Orange County also is still under a general advisory, which warns residents to “avoid all contact with lake water.” Two lakes are still under alerts for contamination are Lake Conway, near Belle Isle south of Orlando, and Lake Pearl, west of the city in Gotha.