Water-Related News

Lake County reminds citizens of summer fertilizer blackout period

Lake County reminds citizens to use only slow release fertilizer this spring

TAVARES – Lake County’s fertilizer ordinance is intended to help reduce nutrient-loading in urban landscapes by adding application restrictions while utilizing Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM principles. The ordinance, recommended by the Keep Lake Beautiful Committee and approved by the Board of County Commissioners in 2017, includes a summer time phosphorous and nitrogen application prohibition.

Residents living in the unincorporated areas of the county who intend to fertilize their yard are reminded to do as soon as possible when turfgrass roots have recovered from winter dormancy and before the start of the summer fertilizer application ban on June 1.

The ordinance prohibits applying fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus to turf or landscaping between June 1 and Sept. 30. The ordinance also requires that fertilizers contain a minimum 50 percent slow-release nitrogen content and prohibits fertilizer from being applied within 15 feet of waterbodies.

This ordinance was implemented as nutrient impairment of waterbodies and springs has become a major concern throughout the state and in Lake County. Excess nutrients change the ecological balance of a waterbody and cause water quality issues including persistent algae blooms.

More than half of Florida’s counties have adopted a fertilizer ordinance, including neighboring counties Marion, Orange, Volusia and Seminole.

For more information, check out the Lake County's Fertilizer Ordinance webpage at www.lakecountyfl.gov/fertilizer. For additional information regarding the Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Program, contact the Lake County UF/IFAS Extension office at 352-343-4101 or visit http://bit.ly/UFFertilizer.

UF scientists to probe downstream ecological impacts of stormwater ponds

GAINESVILLE — Florida teems with rain. Depending on where you live, you might get 40 to 60 inches annually. That rain must go somewhere. Enter Florida’s 76,000 stormwater ponds. When it rains, the water runs off the land, bringing chemicals, grass clippings, lawn debris and more from the landscape into these ponds.

Yet little to no research analyzes downstream ecological impacts from those ponds. Stormwater ponds were originally designed to reduce downstream flooding and are expected to provide water quality benefits by preventing things like sediments or nutrients from entering natural water bodies.

Although ponds do help water quality, research has shown that ponds aren’t as good at removing nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen as they were originally designed. Nutrients not removed by the ponds might go from the stormwater pond – which collects the rain and debris – to nearby bodies of water.

A University of Florida scientist will embark on a study this summer, using Manatee County as his lab. But his results will apply to much of Florida, including Tampa Bay and Biscayne Bay.

Alexander Springs Run project at CR 445 bridge will benefit visitors and the environment

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is working with partners to improve an access point to Alexander Springs Run at the County Road 445 bridge in Ocala. Public access at the County Road 445 bridge is temporarily closed now during construction, which is to be completed by June 2021. Once complete, the site will offer enhanced opportunities for anglers and wildlife viewers, along with safer parking and launch area.

Due to years of illegal access to the spring from underneath both sides of the bridge, the channel is now packed with sand and sediment, harming the surrounding fish and wildlife habitat and water quality. Currently, there are no structures in place to slow the spread of sediment flowing down the slopes and entering the waterway.

Thanks to a partnership between the FWC, the Ocala National Forest and Lake County, plans are underway to reconfigure the shoreline at County Road 445 and stabilize the soil near the bridge. This work will protect the Alexander Springs Run and its fisheries habitat from further damage.

The FWC recently began activities to stabilize this access point along Alexander Springs Run at County Road 445. The project will also stabilize access to the site for vehicle and foot traffic, as well as increase parking and accessibility for visitors. Planting vegetation will improve the fishing and wildlife viewing access point on the west side of the river. This project will greatly improve the overall condition of the site and provide additional protection of an Outstanding Florida Spring surrounded by the Congressionally designated area, Billie’s Bay Wilderness.

Learn how the FWC enhances aquatic systems in Florida by visiting MyFWC.com/AquaticHabitat.