Spring time is here!
 Seagrasses: Florida's aquatic...
 Volunteer bulletin board
 Outstanding Lakewatch voluntee...
 Seagrasses (cont.)
 Bacteria in water bodies: a concern...


Florida Lakewatch newsletter
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00055470/00029
 Material Information
Title: Florida Lakewatch newsletter
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida LAKEWATCH
Publisher: Dept. of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida (UF)
Place of Publication: Gainesville FL
Creation Date: 2007
Frequency: irregular
completely irregular
Subjects / Keywords: Lakes -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
serial   ( sobekcm )
General Note: Description based on v. 9 (spring 1997); title from caption.
General Note: Latest issue consulted: v. 33 (2006).
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 65383070
lccn - 2006229159
System ID: UF00055470:00029


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Table of Contents
    Spring time is here!
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Seagrasses: Florida's aquatic meadows
        Page 3
    Volunteer bulletin board
        Page 4
    Outstanding Lakewatch volunteer
        Page 5
    Seagrasses (cont.)
        Page 6
    Bacteria in water bodies: a concern for citizens?
        Page 7
        Page 8
Full Text

F o ric da


Dedi t ori n Infor mat Ion IAbou t IWae M a m an t I L H rI gIra I VluJ Y III 2007

Ginnie Springs located in Gilchrist County, Florida.

Spring Time Is Her

Floridians walk on water

Florida's karst geology is the
primary reason it has so many springs.
The term karst refers to land forms that
have been modified by dissolution of
soluble rock such as limestone. Most
of the springs occur in the northern
two-thirds of the peninsula and the
central panhandle. These areas have
features such as sinkholes, caves, and
limestone geology.
There are three major aquifer systems
recognized in Florida, The Floridan,

the Intermediate and the Surficial
Aquifer Systems (Southeastern
Geological Society, 1986). The term
aquifer represents a body of soil,
sediment, or rock that is saturated with
water and sufficiently permeable to
allow pumping of water from wells.
The vast majority of Florida's springs
result from discharge from the
Floridan aquifer.
The Floridan aquifer has a high
potential energy that is available to
move the ground water in a confined
aquifer. This allows ground water to

flow to the surface of low ground
elevations resulting in springs.
Rainwater is made slightly acidic
by combining with carbon dioxide
from the atmosphere and organic acids
in the soil. As a result, this acidified
water dissolves portions of the
permeable limestone sediments within
the aquifer. Because of this chemical
Continued on page 2


Springtime is Here! (continued
reaction with the carbonates of the
limestone sediments, the water
chemistry of springs generally remains
stable over extended periods of time.
The flow rates of springs are
dependent on the rate of recharge,
which is a function of fluctuations in
rainfall. Spring water may be from
recent rainfall or from water residing
underground for quite some time.
Research suggests that waters flowing
from larger springs have an average
ground-water residence time of more
than 20 years (Katz, 2004). From
1998-2002, Florida experienced a
drought, which led to a significant
reduction in flow in many first
magnitude springs probably a result of
reduced recharge.

Upwelling of Concern

A spring recharge basin or
"springshed" consists of "those areas
within ground-water and surface-water
basins that contribute to the recharge
of the spring" (DeHan, 2002;
Copeland, 2003). Since karst
topography features sinkholes that can
transmit surface water directly to the
aquifer, a spring's recharge basin may
include surface-waters that originate
from outside the ground-water basin.
The volume and chemical
composition of waters that discharge
from springs is a function of the
geology, hydrology, and land uses
within each spring's recharge basin.
Recently, increased awareness of
groundwater changes such as
increasing nitrates has lead to studies
of the drainage basins that supply
water to springs.
In 1999, a multi-agency Florida
Springs Task Force (2000) was
initiated by the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection (FDEP) to
evaluate physical and chemical trends
in Florida springs.
The task force research found
steady increases of nitrates in 13 first-
magnitude springs between the 1970s
and the early 2000s (Jones
et al., 1996; Champion and DeWitt,

from page 1)
2000; Means et al., 2003). Over 40% of
the Florida springs that were sampled
had a ten-fold increase in nitrate
concentrations above normal
groundwater concentrations while
almost 25% had concentrations that
were 20 times higher than normal.

Springing into action

While the cause and potential
impacts to spring ecology of increased
nitrates are not fully understood, the
FDEP is aware of the nitrate issues.
They are working with other agencies to
reduce nitrate contamination in the areas
where many of Florida's springs are
located. For example, agencies are
delineating springsheds and storm water
receiving areas as well as identifying
land uses that may contribute nitrates
into the ground-water systems.
Continued monitoring of the springs,
spring runs, and ground-water basins are
important steps in protecting Florida

Champion, K.M., and DeWitt, D.J., 2000. Origin
of nitrate in ground water discharging from
Crystal Springs; Pasco County, Florida Draft:
Southwest Florida Water Management District
Report, 191p.

Copeland, R. (compiler) 2003. Florida Spring
Classification System and spring glossary:
Florida Geological Survey, Special Publication
No. 52, 18 p.
DeHan, R.S. (compiler) 2002. Workshop to
develop blue prints for the management and
protection of Florida springs Proceedings,
Ocala, FL., May 8-9, 2002: Florida Geological
Survey Special Publication 51, Compact Disk.
Florida Springs Task Force 2000. Florida's
springs: Strategies for protection and
restoration: Tallahassee, Florida Department of
Environmental Protection, 63 p.
Jones, G.W., Upchurch, S.B., and Champion,
K.M., 1996. Origin of nitrate in ground water
discharging from Rainbow Springs, Marion
County, Florida: Brooksville, Southwest
Florida Water Management District Report,
155 p.
Katz, B.G., 2004. Sources of nitrate
contamination and age of water in large karstic
springs of Florida: Environmental Geology, in
Means, G.H., Copeland, R.E., and Scott, T.M.,
2003. Nitrate trends in selected second
magnitude springs of Florida (abs.): Program
with abstracts, South-Central and Southeastern
Section Geological Society of America
meeting, Memphis, TN, v. 35, no. 1, p. 61.
Southeastern Geological Society, 1986.
Hydrogeological units of Florida: compiled by
Southeastern Geological Society ad hoc
committee: Florida Geological Survey Special
Publication 28, 8 p.

The locations of Flonda's 33 first magnitude springs,

Seagrasses: Florida's Aquatic Meadows

Florida's Seagrasses
When you hear the word meadow
used to describe a habitat, you might
picture an open area with lush green
grass. This same description could be
used to describe a seagrass meadow,
except that you need to include being
underwater in the later image.
Worldwide there are approximately 60
seagrass species and Florida has seven
different seagrass species as well as
immense coastal meadows. If you're a
saltwater angler you know seagrass
meadows for the many fish that can be
caught there.
What are Seagrasses?
Seagrasses are true plants
which evolved from land
plants to colonize the marine
environment. Unlike large
algae, some of which at first
appear plant-like, seagrasses
are angiosperms, meaning
they are capable of flowering
and producing seed and also
have true roots, stems and
leaves which are made up of
vascular tissue. Don't plan
on gathering an arrangement
of seagrass flowers though;
the flowers are tiny and
inconspicuous. As many
plants do, seagrasses also
grow through vegetative
means by expanding their Turtle Gre
underground runners which seagrass i
branch from an established
plant. Called clones by seagrass
researchers, large areas can be made up
of only several distinct plants.

Florida's Seagrass Species:
Turtle Grass (Thalassia testudinum)
Manatee Grass (Syringodiumfiliforme)
Shoal Grass (Halodule wrightii)
Johnson's Seagrass (Halophila
Paddle Grass (Halophila decipiens)
Star Grass (Halophila engelmanni)
Widgeon Grass* (Ruppia maritima)

Where are they found in Florida?
In coastal environments where
conditions are right, seagrass meadows
can range from patchy, rug sized
collections to expanses of hundreds or
even thousands of acres. Collectively
these seagrass meadows add up to some
impressive numbers. The Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission
estimates that there are 2 million acres of
seagrass in Florida waters of the Gulf of
Mexico and Florida Bay (over 1 million
acres in Florida Bay alone). Some
700,000 acres of seagrass exist in the east
coast waters of the state from the middle
of Mosquito Lagoon to the lower portion
of Biscayne Bay. In addition, Florida has

b- r J
ass (Thalassia testudinum) is the largest and most robust
n Florida and the Caribbean.

an estimated 1 million acres of seasonal
seagrass in deeper coastal marine waters.

Importance ofSeagrass
These meadows serve several
important ecological roles, including:
1) Seagrass meadows are very
productive, making them important links
in marine food webs. Estimates of their
productivity suggest the ability to fix
carbon dioxide (CO2) into new plant
tissue at twice the rate achieved by some
cultivated crops, like corn or rice. Some
researchers have estimated that
seagrasses can produce more than 800
grams of carbon per square meter per
year. 2) Seagrass meadows provide

food or shelter for numerous of marine
organisms including invertebrates, fish,
waterfowl, sea turtles and manatees. It
has been estimated that 85% of the
commercially and recreationally
important marine fisheries in Florida (e.g.
spotted sea trout, red fish, gag grouper,
blue crabs, shrimp and bay scallops)
utilize seagrass habitat for at least one
part of their life stage.
3) Seagrass meadows may reduce coastal
erosion by binding sediments with
belowground root and rhizome systems
and by reducing wave energy or the
speed of currents with aboveground leaf
material. Seagrass meadows, along with
salt marshes and mangrove forests,
vegetation zones, which
can moderate the impacts
of wind, waves and tidal

Threats to Seagrasses
Factors that affect the
distribution of seagrass
meadows include both
normal variations of
weather and periodic
storm events, as well as
direct and indirect human
causes. Naturally
occurring events such as
storms and hurricanes
have the ability to shift
coastal sediments, which
can bury seagrass
meadows or erode the

sediments they grow on.
Events like these, do not necessarily
eliminate seagrasses, but can certainly
modify their distribution. Because the
discharge of rivers and estuaries is related
to the rainfall patterns in their
watersheds, it is likely that seagrass
distribution patterns will vary in response
as well. For example, the volume of fresh
water supplied to coastal areas via river
discharge has a direct influence on
salinity levels, which in turn influence
seagrass species and abundance.
Additionally if tannins or other forms of
dissolved organic matter are present in
the river,

Continued on page 6.

*some do not consider this a seagrass; it is commonly associated with estuarine habitats.

Volunteer BuleinBor

Florida LAKEWATCH Photography
Contest for a Calendar
Florida LAKEWATCH is looking for
photographs to be used in their first calendar
(2008). Florida LAKEWATCH volunteers must
take the photographs and the content of the
photographs must be about the lake they sample.
The categories for this year's calendar are:
aesthetics, flora & fauna, and recreation. Florida
LAKEWATCH staff will be Judges and the
twelve winning photographs will be featured in
the 2008 calendar.
Florida LAKEWATCH Cookbook
Florida LAKEWATCH is also collecting recipes
from interested volunteers to be used in a Florida
LAKEWATCH cookbook. Gather all of those
special recipes that have been passed down
through your families and lets make a great
Secure the Future- A Home for
When completed both the calendar and
cookbook will be distributed for donations that
will be used for building a much needed, new
home for the Florida LAKEWATCH program.
Send as many photographs and recipes as you
want via snail mail to:
Department of Fisheries and Aquatic
7922 NW 71t Street
Gainesville, FL 32653-3071
Or E-mail electronic copies to:
fl-lakewatch @ufl.edu

Mark Your Calendars Now!

Florida LAKEWATCH Invites You
to a Volunteer Appreciation Picnic
Activities include a tour of the LAKEWATCH facilities
and meeting with other volunteers across the state
to discuss lake issues and a home for LAKEWATCH.

When: Saturday, August 18, 2007
Time: 12:00 Noon
Where: The Fisheries Department at the University of
Florida in Gainesville.

Barbecue, fish and drinks will be provided by
LAKEWATCH. Please bring a side dish to share.
Please RSVP by August 10th at
1-800-525-3928 or fl-lakewatch@ufl.edu

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has a new e-mail address:



Due to the many requests by LAKEWATCH volunteers, we are
now offering our newsletters electronically. If you would like
to receive the LAKEWATCH newsletter via the internet, and
you have not previously notified us, please send us an e-mail
using our new e-mail address to request the electronic version
instead of a hard copy.

Maurice Logan talks with Florida LAKEWATCH Regional Coordinator Dan
Regional Meeting in Bartow.

Willis at the 2005 Polk County

Maurice Logan has lived on Lake
Blue for 40 years and has been the
LAKEWATCH sampler on his
lake for 15 years. Sandy Fisher
(retired LAKEWATCH director)
trained Maurice on February 13,
1991 and he has collected
approximately 147 months worth
of samples to date.
Lake Blue (North Basin) is
located at the intersection of Hwy
27 and Hwy 640 in Polk County.
The lake is located in the Northern
Lake Wales Ridge Region and is
oligotrophic (nutrient poor with
clear water).
In addition to collecting water
chemistry data for
LAKEWATCH, Maurice also

collected lake level and rainfall
data for the Southwest Florida
Water Management District.
During the forty years he has lived
on the lake he has witnessed a 16
foot fluctuation in lake levels,
three hurricanes, and yearly
rainfall data that have ranged from
as low as 30.7 inches in 1984 to as
high as 76 inches in 2005 with a
yearly average of 53 inches.
Maurice turned 91 years old in
March 2007 and has decided to
move off the lake after many years
of enjoyment and dedicated
service. Some fond memories he
recounts are: watching the birth of
approximately 200 wood ducks
since he installed his wood duck

houses, watching snail kites
through out the years feeding on
apple snails while perched on his
gazebo and sharing his backyard
with Sand Hill Cranes.
The pleasure of having
Maurice as a volunteer is all ours
because we do not come across
volunteers like Maurice very
often. His dedication to Lake Blue
and LAKEWATCH goes beyond
anything we could have hoped for
from a volunteer. We wish the
best for him and his family and
offer our dearest gratitude for his
contribution. Maurice's efforts
will help Lake Blue for years to
come and hopefully someone will
volunteer to carry on his legacy.

Seagrasses: Florida's Aquatic Meadows (continued
water, the resulting dark-colored waters
will strongly absorb light. For these
reasons, coastal rivers and associated
estuaries often lack seagrasses due to
unfavorable salinity ranges or insufficient
Human activity can have both direct
and indirect impacts upon seagrasses.
Direct impacts include: 1) "Seagrasses
scaring" caused by propeller damage I
from operating boats in shallow waters.
In heavily trafficked areas, the
cumulative propeller damage can
eliminate seagrasses from large areas.
2) The use of bottom nets in commercial
fisheries can also cause considerable
damage and reduction of seagrasses.
3) Dredging and filling for construction
and for navigation channels can result in
direct loss of seagrass habitat as well.
Human activity can also indirectly Shoal grass (
impact seagrass meadows: 1) Just as colonizer of a
lakes and rivers can be susceptible to
eutrophication, so too can coastal waters. Seagrass loss
One possible outcome of coastal usually begin
eutrophication is that less sunlight would of the beds, w
be available for the seagrass the plants is n
photosynthesis. This can result from the progresses to,
scenario of increased nutrient loads being light available
delivered to coastal waters, allowing eutrophicatiol
phytoplankton and epiphytes (the include the sh
microscopic community that include both filament
algae which grow on the surface of algae (think a
underwater plants) to increase in Erosion along
abundance to the point that the ambient subsequent d
sunlight is not enough to meet the particulates c.
metabolic needs of seagrasses. light available
-- ~ .. --- ri-------~~a~ -nz- nTr F r rs

FHalodule wrightii) is an extremely important seagrass. It is a
disturbed area where turtle grass and manatee grass cannot grow.

due to light attenuation
s along the deeper edges
there the light reaching
naturally lower and
wards the shallows as
ity declines. 2) Another
n related factor could
lading by macroalgae;
ous forms and drift
aquatic tumbleweeds). 3)
Coastal rivers and the
livery of the suspended
an dramatically reduce

as well, again resulting in
declining seagrass abundance near
coastal river mouths.

Seagrass Protection
Seagrass protection and
preservation are integral parts of
most estuarine management plans
and government regulations exist
for their protection. You can stop
damage to seagrass (and very
likely your boat!) by avoiding
areas shallower than your vessel
and motors' draft. Utilize
navigation channels where
possible and request
improvements to the existing
network of marine navigation
channel markers if needed. More
difficult to address are the
combined effects of coastal
development, habitat modification
and eutrophication. Issues of this
scale require the shared efforts of
both citizens and governments,
through best management
practices, conservation,
comprehensive planning and
zoning. Next time you are
enjoying our coastal resources,
take a moment to look for
seagrass meadows.

Manatee grass is the second most abundant seagrass in Florida.

UBateI ri SaU in Wate Bo dies: [WAUCone]irn forI qgpit~izens

After years of working with Florida
LAKEWATCH volunteers, we've found
that bacterial contamination is a major
concern among citizens. Fortunately,
advances in the treatment of human waste
have greatly reduced the incidence of
diseases resulting from contaminated
water. Widespread development has been
accompanied by a dramatic increase in
the number of septic tanks and/or
municipal sewage treatment plants. As a
result, concerns about bacterial
contamination are re-emerging among
citizens and some scientists.
Life itself is not without risk and it is
impossible to guarantee with 100%
confidence that an individual will not
become ill upon contact with water.
However, bacterial contamination of
water is much less of a problem than it
used to be. Rather than being fearful,
citizens are encouraged to remain vigilant
and solve problems as they emerge. Once
the public has been warned about
possible contamination, correcting the
problem should be the most important
management objective and this includes
being committed to tracking down the
source of the bacterial contamination.
Bacteria in Aquatic Systems
Bacteria are a natural component of
life in all aquatic systems including
freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and
oceans. They serve as "decomposers" of
dead plant and animal tissues and
continually recycle nutrients back into
the water. Like most things in life, it only
takes a few troublemakers to spoil the
fun. Health officials are mostly

1 ecal colojorm bacteria are one oJ the
"troublemakers' that causes concern among
heath officials.

concerned about a few bacteria strains
that are associated with the intestines of
warm-blooded animals, including
humans, as well as certain opportunistic
viruses and protozoa that can cause
illness in people, particularly those with
weakened immune systems.
Bacterial contamination refers to
instances in which bacteria associated
with human or animal wastes are found
in concentrations greater than the
receiving waters can handle. Humans
drinking from, swimming in, or eating
shellfish from such a contaminated water
body run a risk of being exposed to
harmful bacteria or pathogenic viruses.
Because it is impossible to eliminate all
harmful bacteria from aquatic
environments, health agencies have set
standards for acceptable levels allowed
in public waters.
These standards tend to be
conservative and are effective in
preventing human health problems nearly
all of the time. However, even if risk
levels may be deemed acceptable,
meeting the standards does not
completely eliminate the possibility of
becoming sick. Along the same lines, just
because a bacterium enters a water body,
it doesn't necessarily mean the risk of
contracting a disease is increased. It
simply means that there is the potential
for a problem. In a study of 99 Florida
lakes from 2000 to 2003, scientist from
the University of Florida found that only
2% of the lakes sampled were above the
state standards.
Potential sources of bacterial
contamination in Florida water bodies
can be grouped into three general
categories: human waste, domestic
animal waste, and naturally occurring
wastes from wildlife. Of course,
contamination can also result from a
combination of sources.
Human Waste
When financial resources are
available, municipal wastewater
treatment plants are used to treat large
volumes of human waste. While these
treatment plants are extremely effective
at removing disease-causing bacteria
from wastewater discharges, there is still
a possibility that pathogens could be
present in water discharged from these

treatment plants. In rural and suburban
areas of Florida, septic tanks are the most
common treatment systems used for
human waste. Septic tanks are often
maligned when issues of nutrient
enrichment and bacterial contamination
are discussed among lake users. This is
unfortunate because, while there is
certainly evidence that septic tanks can
add nutrients and bacteria to lakes, their
contribution is usually not as great as
many people believe.
Domestic Animal Waste
Most domesticated animals are warm-
blooded and their wastes also harbor
pathogens known to adversely affect
humans. Unmanaged storm-water runoff
from sites with high concentrations of
domesticated animals such as cattle

Waterfowl can be a source of bacterial
contamination in lakes.

feedlots, pig farms, and chicken farms
can be a potential source for bacterial
contamination. Given the high
visibility of these facilities and the
odors they tend to emit, residents tend
to blame these sites when bacterial
contamination issues arise. However,
such operations are not always to
blame and bacterial testing must be
conducted before any conclusions are

Continued on page 8.



Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
7922 NW 71st Street
Gainesville, FL 32653

Bacteria in Water Bodies: A Concern for Citizens? (continued from page 7)

Domesticated animals living on open
pastureland, such as cattle or horses, can
also contribute to high bacteria counts in
water bodies. Contamination is often
related to animals entering the water for
drinking or cooling purposes and then
defecating directly into the water. This
can be corrected relatively easily by
fencing the animals away from the water.
However, the animals will then need to
be provided drinking and cooling water,
which can be expensive.
Naturally Occurring Waste from
There are naturally occurring
sources of bacteria. For example, large
concentrations of wildlife such as deer,
wild hogs, or birds represent significant
potential sources for bacterial
contamination of water.
When Lake Fairview in Orlando,
Florida was found to have high bacteria
counts, it was originally thought that the
source was leaky septic tanks. This
resulted in discussions concerning the
need for a municipal water treatment
plant. However, after an extensive

bacterial survey, it was determined that
fecal waste from a large number of
seagulls using the lake was the source of
contamination. An observant biologist
noticed that when the
seagulls were absent, there was no
contamination. In this instance,
eliminating septic tanks would not have
solved the problem because it was a
phenomenon of nature that was difficult
to control.
Remember prudence should always
be exercised when it comes to human
health. If you have been swimming in a
water body and become ill, see your
doctor and tell her/him that you have
been in contact with recreational waters.
The probability that your illness is related
to a waterbore disease is low, but if it is,
then most illnesses can be treated quickly
and effectively once diagnosed. Should
you have any questions or concerns
regarding bacterial contamination in your
water body, please call Florida

ECorY id V&

This newsletter is generated by the Florida
LAKEWATCH program, within UF/IFAS'
Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Support for the LAKEWATCH program is provided
by the Florida Legislature, grants and donations For
more information about LAKEWATCH, to inquire
about volunteer training sessions, or to submit
materials for inclusion in this publication, write to

GanmevileFL 32653
E-mail fl-lakewatch@ufl edu
http //lakewatch ifas ufl edu/

All unsolicited articles, photographs, artwork or other
written material must include contributor's name,
address and phone number Opinions expressed are
solely those of the individual contributor and do not
necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of the Florida