Water-Related News

Adopt-A-Lake volunteers recognized for environmental work

At the Feb. 28 Lake County Water Authority board meeting held in Tavares, area residents who volunteer to help protect the county’s waterways were recognized for their efforts. The volunteers regularly monitor water quality and clean up trash, including literally miles of monofilament fishing line.

Through the county’s Adopt-a-Lake program, which began in 2008, residents can become citizen scientists by participating in an ongoing water sampling project. Volunteers receive the tools needed to collect water samples, assess water turbidity and otherwise help monitor water bodies throughout the county.

According to the presentation by Cathie Catasus, who is the county’s water resources program manager, 36 sites in Lake County currently are being monitored by volunteers.

Last year, 283 samples were collected, and volunteers spent 708 hours doing so, she said. Pollution prevention efforts in 2023 resulted in about 1,000 pounds of litter being removed over 280 hours.

In the overall history of the program, volunteers have collected more than 3,500 water samples and more than 17,000 pounds of litter. And over 76 miles of monofilament fishing line, one of the deadliest forms of litter for wildlife, have been removed. Total volunteer hours since 2008 add up to almost 16,000 hours.

Two volunteers received special acknowledgement at the meeting. 94-year-old Pat Davis was recognized for her continued hours spent collecting litter. The Eustis resident was unable to attend the meeting, but her two daughters were there. The other, Peter Tuite, put in more than 2,488 hours in the county’s Tavares-based water lab from 2015 to 2023 and continues to regularly help at the lab.

Tuite, of Howey-in-the-Hills, stood for applause after Catasus recounted his contributions to the program.

A quote from Tuite also was displayed: “I feel that it’s a privilege to be able to help out at the lab. I enjoy working with this small group of dedicated county workers. As a Vietnam veteran, I have always thought that service to our country was an honor. As a Lake County volunteer and a fisherman, the opportunity to monitor the water quality of our lakes and rivers is the most satisfying occupation of my life.”

Catasus said the last time volunteers were recognized at a board meeting was in 2012, when a presentation was given to the Lake County Board of County Commissioners.

Data from water samples collected by volunteers are uploaded to the Water Resource Atlas, used in cooperation with LCWA and the University of South Florida. This interactive database is full of details on water quality, hydrology, watershed information, boat ramps, historical information and more. Visit www.lake.wateratlas.usf.edu.

Interested in monitoring a lake or helping remove litter? Contact Catasus at 352-253-1686 or cathie.catasus@lakecountyfl.gov for more information.