The Wekiva River Basin is a key aspect of the local ecosystem, but many residents don't realize that this natural treasure is threatened. Concerns have been raised for quite some time about the pollutant levels contained in some of the runoff feeding the Wekiva River Basin. These pollutant levels continue to increase within water samples, and this poses a significant threat to the Wekiva River system. The increased levels of pollutants within the water allows for harmful algae growth, and other natural issues.
An example of this would be Bay Lake which is located within the Little Wekiva watershed. It has struggled with pollutants and being classified as TMDL impaired for quite some time. Thankfully, local leaders are already discussing ways to address these issues facing our community.
In order to address the issues that Bay Lake faces, the Bay Lake Modular Wetland project was initiated. The project provides water quality treatment for upstream areas that were historically untreated, prior to reaching the lake. Bay Lake has been negatively impacted by storm water runoff for years, and has become polluted with high nutrients and phosphorus levels. Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) is a scientific determination of the maximum amount of given pollutants that surface water can absorb and still meet the water quality standards that protects human health and aquatic environments. Water bodies that do not meet these requirements are identified as impaired for a particular pollution of concern. Examples of such pollutants would be high levels of nutrition, bacteria, mercury, etc. The threshold limit on pollutants in surface water are derived from the surface water quality standard which is set forth primarily in rule 62-302, of the Florida Administrative Code. Once a body of water has been determined to be "impaired", a TMDL program can be implemented to address the problem. Bay Lakes program was recently implemented.
In order to reduce the pollution flowing into the lake and improve water quality, the Orange County Environmental Protection Division installed to Modular Wetland units near the southeastern and northwestern corner of the Bay Lake. Modular wetland is a water quality treatment device designed filter storm water runoff before can enter the lake. Each device features multiple treatment areas that deal with different water quality issues. First, there is a screening cell to remove trash and debris. Secondly, a sedimentation cell to allow large settlement and fully dissolved solids to settle out. Thirdly, a filtration cell that uses an innovative bio sorption activated media (BMA) that physically, chemically and biologically removes a wide array of pollutants including nutrients, dissolves metals, and hydrocarbons. Fourthly, storm water is further treated by natural plant uptake. This fourth and final feature allows water to be filtered through a natural ecosystem, and provides a final filtration of harmful substances. Similar projects to Bay Lake have been being implemented throughout the region, but new innovative projects are also being developed and study for future use.
Research and development of new procedures is still being planned for the future. Ground water wells are currently being planned for the river basin. For example, up to five well clusters will be installed around the Wekiva Basin in the surficial, intermediate, and upper Floridan aquifers to study the nutrient and water flow in the area. Floating islands were installed in a retention pond and studied for nutrient removal. Results indicated no identified nutrient removal in water column, but did show an increase in biomass in plants which could be used as nutrient removal. The Islands were moved to Jones Avenue pond on the north side of Lake Apopka, and planning for expanded implementation is taking place. It is with a clear vision for the future that current leadership continues to developing an overall strategy for the Wekiva River Basin.
The Bay Lake project is an example of what it takes to truly protect our incredible environment. However, there are many other projects currently underway that will also achieve this goal. A short list is compiled below. If you have any questions in regards to these projects feel free to contact Commissioner Nelson or his office staff at 407-836-5850 or Bryan.Nelson@ocfl.net or District2@ocfl.net
"I'm proud to be working with members of our community to preserve this natural treasure for generations to come," said Orange County Commissioner, Bryan Nelson.
Bay Lake Modular Wetland 2014
Bay Lake Modular Wetland 2014
Lake Lawne C7 retention pond 2012
Lake Lawne CIB 2011
Riverside Sedimentation enlargement 2010
Wekiwa Springs Fertilizer Education Campaign 2013-2015
Lake Weston CIB – 2014
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