FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 18, 2014
DEP ADOPTS PLAN TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY
~ DEP and local governments commit to another five years of restoration projects for Upper Ocklawaha River~
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has adopted the second phase of a long-term restoration plan for the Upper Ocklawaha River. The restoration plan, known as a basin management action plan or BMAP, identifies strategies and projects that will be implemented over the next five years in order to improve the water quality of the Upper Ocklawaha River. Nutrient pollution, specifically excessive nitrogen and phosphorous, is the primary source of the water quality imbalance in the Upper Ocklawaha River and tributaries.
“It is encouraging to see improvements in the Upper Ocklawaha basin, and we can be proud of the improvements that have been made in the last few years,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “There is more work to be done. DEP is committed to working with local stakeholders to achieve water quality restoration.”
The original restoration plan was adopted in 2007 and covered 10 different waterbodies in the Upper Ocklawaha River basin. The plan focused initially on pollutant load reduction by the restoration of former agricultural lands by the St. John’s River Water Management District, completion of the Nutrient Removal Facility that removes excess pollution from Lake Apopka by the Lake County Water Authority and construction of local government stormwater improvement projects.
Seven of the original 10 water bodies covered by the 2007 restoration plan have shown nutrient pollution reductions, achieving up to a 48-percent reduction in total phosphorous for Lake Beauclair and a 41-percent reduction for Lake Dora. Additionally, nine of the 10 waterbodies covered under the restoration plan have shown reductions in chlorophyll-a. Chlorophyll-a is used as an indicator of the amount of algae in a given water body. Excessive algal growth is frequently caused by nutrient pollution. This second phase of the restoration plan continues the department’s efforts to reduce nutrient pollution by focusing where further nutrient reductions are needed.
There are other factors in addition to pollution that are causing water quality imbalances within the five focus area waterbodies, such as lack of aquatic plant life and habitat for fish. One of the strategies over the next five years is to identify these factors and their role and influence on water quality and, as feasible, implement projects to remediate the issue.
For more information about the Upper Ocklawaha River restoration plans click here.