An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Orange County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Lake Advisory LIFTED for Lake Estelle

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UPDATE: Sept. 23, 20022 – The Lake Advisory for Lake Estelle due to algae toxins has been lifted. Please resume all normal water activities associated with this lake.


Original notices follow:

September 12, 2022

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) recently tested follow-up water samples collected from Lake Mann near the Gilbert McQueen boat ramp. It was determined that potentially unsafe concentrations of toxins are still present in the lake. As a precaution, we are advising everyone to continue to refrain from swimming, recreating and irrigating in/from Lake Mann until further notice.


Sept. 2, 2022: Recent lab results from a sample collected at Lake Estelle indicate the presence of algae capable of producing toxins in the water column.

As a result, Lake Estelle will continue to be closely monitored by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) staff. The FDEP will collect follow-up samples for analysis in 2-3 weeks, and will provide updates on any possible detection of algae toxins as reported on the FDEP Algal Bloom Reporting dashboard (https://floridadep.gov/AlgalBloom).

Please continue to refrain from irrigating or recreating on the lake, including swimming, fishing and boating until further notice.


Aug. 8, 2022: The Florida Department of Health in Orange County (FDOH) has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Estelle. This is in response to a water sample taken on 8/8/22 from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Estelle. Please refrain from irrigating or recreating on the lake, including swimming, fishing and boating until further notice.

Algae are always present in water, however, not all algae produce toxins. Algae are most common in Florida during the summer and early fall, due to high temperatures and sunlight.

Recent lab results from a sample collected at Lake Estelle indicate the presence of algae toxins in the water column. As a result, Lake Estelle will be closely monitored by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) staff. The FDEP will collect follow-up samples for analysis at a future date (possibly 4-6 weeks) determined by the FDEP for Lake Estelle and will provide updates on any possible detection of algae toxins as reported on the FDEP Algal Bloom Reporting dashboard (https://floridadep.gov/AlgalBloom). 

The official toxin determination is obtained from FDEP's data, and until the levels are deemed safe by state standards, the Lake Alert will remain in effect as per FDOH. Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov.

To report a bloom to FDEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855.305.3903 or report online here: https://floridadep.gov/AlgalBloom

Herbicide application on Lake Conway (Barby Canal), 9/21

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The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 9/21/2022.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage floating plants in the Barby Canal.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS:

  • DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY.
  • DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 5 DAYS.
  • There are no restrictions on swimming or fishing.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

These restrictions ONLY apply to the BARBY CANAL indicated in red below:

treatment area

Herbicide Application on Lake Down (Fisher Canal), 9/20

OCAlert logo

The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 9/20/2022.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage floating plants in the Fisher Canal.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS:

  • DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY.
  • DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 5 DAYS.
  • There are no restrictions on swimming or fishing.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

These restrictions ONLY apply to the FISHER CANAL indicated in red below:

treatment area

Herbicide Application on Lake Conway (Landings Canal), 9/20

OCAlert logo

The Environmental Protection Division will be performing an aquatic plant herbicide treatment on 9/20/2022.

This treatment is part of an ongoing effort to manage floating plants in the BACK of the Landings Canal.

WATER USE RESTRICTIONS:

  • DO NOT USE FOR ANIMAL DRINKING SUPPLY FOR 1 DAY.
  • DO NOT USE FOR IRRIGATION WATER SUPPLY FOR 5 DAYS.
  • There are no restrictions on swimming or fishing.

Please direct any questions to the Environmental Protection Division at 407-836-1400.

These restrictions ONLY apply to the LANDINGS CANAL indicated in red below:

treatment area

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.