Water-Related News

New park in downtown Tavares will treat stormwater

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Construction is under way on a $5.6 million stormwater project that will transform 8 acres in downtown Tavares into a park complete with wooden bridges and lush landscaping atop man-made ponds designed to treat storm water runoff before it discharges into Lake Dora.

The stormwater treatment park, known as the Ruby Street Stormwater Improvement and Beautification Plan, is geared toward improving and protecting the water quality of Lake Dora, designated as an impaired lake by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“People will be able to enjoy the park and they won’t even know it’s treating water right underneath their feet,” said Mandy Wettstein, a public relations specialist hired by the city to keep residents apprised of the plan’s progress.

According to Tavares’ Utility Director Brad Hayes, runoff storm water will be collected and discharged into the treatment ponds under the walkways. Once free of toxins, the clean water will be discharged into Dora Canal.

Wettstein said a unique part of the treatment process is the use of BeeMats — floating rubber mats that will remove nitrogen and other pollutants like fertililzers and oils present in storm water runoff.

“The roots from the flora and fauna in the BeeMats will release, drop down into the ponds and grab the nitrogen and other bad nutrients, and kind of suck them up,” Wettstein said.

Hayes said the storm water treatment park is part of the the city’s master plan for economic development in the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area, designed to lure more people to restaurants, shops and attractions along Ruby Street.

Hayes said the treatment park will also add to the beauty and serenity of Wooton Park and, because Lake Dora will be cleaner, more water-related recreational activities could be held there.