Water-Related News

What Is An Algae Bloom And What’s It Doing To Lake Minneola?

February 15, 2020 – By Michelle Delaney

Read this story in the South Lake Tablet and see photos of Lake Minneola's algae bloom

Lake Minneola by the new boat ramp (picture by Jack Kruse)

Do you know what an algae bloom is?

Algae bloom is a rapid accumulation of algae in freshwater. There are various factors that can cause algae bloom such as:

Stormwater Run-Off – precipitation falls, runs across hard surfaces such as rooftops, sidewalks and roads and carries pollutants, including nitrogen and phosphorus, into local waterways.

Wastewater (sewer and septic systems not operating properly), fertilizers, pet waste and certain soaps and detergents that contain nitrogen and phosphorus. All these can carry nutrients directly into our lakes and reservoirs.

Can algae bloom cause serious health problems?

The harmful effects of algae bloom is due to the toxins they produce from using up oxygen in the water. An algae bloom can affect the entire ecosystem. It can lead to fish die-offs.

Not all algae blooms are harmful, some only produce discoloring water, a smelly odor, and may add a bad taste to the water.

However, algae bloom can also produce serious health problems.

It can produce extremely dangerous toxins that can sicken people; kill pets/wildlife/fish; create dead zones in the water; raise treatment costs for drinking water; hurt industries that depend on clean water.

Algae bloom causes rashes, stomach or liver illness, respiratory problems, and neurological effects.

 Lake Minneola  algae bloom (Picture furnished by Cindy Davis)What’s Happening on Lake Minneola?

A few weeks ago, I began experiencing severe headaches, shortness of breath, runny nose and burning eyes. I thought I was developing an allergy. At first, I blamed my cats! Now I don’t think my cats are the problem…Sorry cats.

When I walk out my backdoor, I smell a strange earthy odor wafting off the lake. I can’t open my windows because my eyes and nose become even more irritated and my breathing more strained. Instead of gazing at the beautiful deep blue waters, I see murky green waters lapping on the shoreline. I’ve lived on Lake Minneola for nearly 50 years and know my lake. I’ve played, boated and swam in the beautiful, clean, clear lake and not once have I seen Lake Minneola in its present, unhealthy condition.

I spent 6 hours yesterday on the phone talking with Lake and State departments about algae bloom. My first call was to The Lake County Aquatic Plant Management Department. I was assured that the Imazamox that was recently sprayed on the lakefront was for water primrose, has been used for 5 years, and would not have caused an algae bloom. The next call I made was to the Lake County Health Department. I was told the lake’s water was not a problem they deal with. The Lake County Water Lab didn’t take ownership of the problem either. I was told The Lab has no way of detecting a toxin in the lake unless they know what to test for.

Finally some useful information – A call to the Florida Department of Environment Protection provided some useful information which I’m passing on to my readers. I encourage everyone to visit the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to learn more about algae blooms and report the location of an algae bloom. I found three algae blooms recently reported on Lake Minneola, there will be four reported once I complete my findings.

What Can Be Done To Help Save The Clermont Chain Of Lakes?

Everyone should be aware and protective of our ecosystem. It’s fragile.

The City of Clermont has a huge stake in the condition of the Clermont Chain of Lakes and needs to remain vigilant and actively involved in preserving the quality of the lakes. The city recently celebrated the opening of its new boat ramp on the southeast corner of Lake Minneola, Lake County Rowers Association has its boathouse on the southwest corner of the Lake. Sommer Sports bring thousands of athletes to swim/run and bike in and along the shoreline, and many activities are enjoyed at the Hiawatha Preserve, Victory Pointe, and Clermont Waterfront Park.

The Lake County Water Authority is meeting on February 26, 3:30 pm in the Board of County Commissioners Chambers in the Administration Building, 315 West Main Street, Tavares. Everyone who believes in keeping the quality of our lakes safe and healthy is encouraged to attend and request to have an independent lab take samples from Lake Minneola and try to figure out the source of the algae bloom.

 Lake Minneola (picture furnished by Steve Franklin, Clermont Chain of Lakes Boaters & Floaters)

Have you ever seen an algae bloom? Visit Lake Minneola and see it firsthand.

Resident and visitor reports are an important tool in helping DEP identify potential harmful algal blooms in public waters. Report a new algae bloom by clicking on this link: Algal Bloom Reporting Form

Florida moving ahead to take over federal wetlands permitting

Environmental groups cry foul over a developer-backed effort that began under Rick Scott.

For decades Florida’s developers have pushed for the state to take over from the federal government issuing permits for filling wetlands. On Wednesday, the state took a crucial step toward fulfilling that wish — much to the dismay of the state’s environmental groups.

The state Department of Environmental Protection published a pair of legal notices for changes to its regulations that lay the groundwork for the state’s takeover of wetlands permitting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Only two other states have taken that step.

“This rule is just one step in the process for the state to assume authority to administer the dredge and fill permitting program under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act,” the state’s notice says. The move is subject to the approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Environmental groups ranging from the Florida Wildlife Federation to the Miami Riverkeeper blasted the proposal, which they predict will lead to a weakening of protection for the state’s marshes, bogs, swamps and other wetlands.

“The Florida Department of Environmental Protection doesn’t have the proper capacity to take over the wetlands permitting that has been run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for decades," said Tania Galloni, managing attorney for the Florida office of the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice. "It can’t even manage to enforce the environmental laws already under its purview.”

Florida's chief science officer says we need to reduce carbon emissions

“Ultimately we’re going to have to reduce carbon emissions to reduce warming and its effects,” Florida Chief Science Officer Thomas Frazer said Tuesday before a speech in Sarasota.

Florida’s new chief science officer spoke about the need to reduce nutrient pollution that is contributing to water quality problems and reduce carbon emissions that are warming the planet during a swing through Sarasota Tuesday [Feb. 4th].

Gov. Ron DeSantis created the position of chief science officer shortly after being sworn in, and University of Florida professor Thomas Frazer is the first person to hold the job.

Frazer, who has a PhD in biological sciences, primarily has been tasked with addressing water quality issues, which he described during a speech to The Argus Foundation Tuesday as “probably the most pressing problem in our state.”

But Frazer also made it clear that climate change is a big problem that needs to be addressed, and reducing carbon emissions is critical. That’s a message that has not been heard out of the executive branch in Florida in nearly a decade.

SJRWMD water quality project at Lake Apopka uses new technology

Lake Apopka’s water quality is improving thanks to a variety of water quality restoration projects aimed at reducing the amount of phosphorus in the lake.

MAITLAND — The St. Johns River Water Management District today hosted a preview visit to Lake Apopka highlighting a project that will soon use innovative technology to remove phosphorus and continue improving the lake’s water quality. The technology was successfully tested in 2017 on the Lake Apopka North Shore. Following a competitive bid process, this new project is the next step toward securing further water quality benefits for Lake Apopka.

“The promising test project results convinced us to move ahead with this new method of improving water quality,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “This next stage is a pay-for-performance demonstration project that will help us continue our work on behalf of Lake Apopka while embracing our enthusiasm for innovative, collaborative ventures.”

“We’re excited to be putting our innovative CleanWater technology to work at Lake Apopka,” said Don Luke, Chief Operating Officer of Phosphorus Free Water Solutions. “We’re passionate about the removal of phosphorus and our novel, environmentally friendly process to remove contaminates from our water and waterways is proven to deliver verifiable results, which the district will only pay for when results are delivered. Together, with the St. Johns River Water Management District, we look forward to preventing future algae growth and improving overall water quality at Lake Apopka and downstream water bodies.”

This project uses a new, non-traditional treatment technology that focuses on removing phosphorus directly from the water. Reducing phosphorus will improve water quality by reducing algal abundance. Downstream water bodies, including lakes Beauclair and Dora, will also benefit.

As a pay-for-performance project, the district will only pay for phosphorus removed. The total project budget for the first year is $1.16 million (about $115 per pound of phosphorus removed).

Construction is underway and the project will begin treating water this spring.