Lake Apopka shows signs of improvement

MAITLAND, Fla., Feb. 23, 2016 — Native plants continue to expand in Lake Apopka thanks to a variety of restoration projects aimed at improving the health of Florida’s fourth-largest lake. An analysis conducted by the St. Johns River Water Management District reveals native submersed aquatic vegetation is expanding, an indication of improving water quality.

“This is an incredible example of how Lake Apopka is responding positively to the district’s long-term restoration efforts,” said St. Johns River Water Management District’s Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We are proud of these results and will continue to implement established techniques and evaluate innovative approaches aimed at protecting and improving the lake’s water quality.”

Submersed aquatic vegetation are plants rooted at the bottom of the lake that provide critical nesting and feeding habitat for numerous fish and wildlife species. Because the vegetation requires sufficient sunlight to penetrate the water in order to grow, its presence is a good indicator of water quality. Additionally, the vegetation helps to stabilize sediments and further reduce nutrient concentrations in the lake.

During the district’s early restoration activities, lower water levels due to drought nearly eliminated all newly established submersed vegetation in Lake Apopka. While some areas declined in size during the most recent drought in 2013-2014,overall the extent of submersed aquatic vegetation continues to recover.