Florida Lake Regions:
A Classification System
Where Does Your Lake Fit In?
The Lake Region Classification System
can be a useful tool for managing your lake.
By reading this handout, you can learn:
> How and why the Florida Lake Regions
project was developed;
> How to compare your lake with other lakes
in its Lake Region; and
> How the Lake Region Classification System ./
can be useful to you.
W ith more than 7800 lakes in the state and a limited number of lake management professionals
available, the task of creating a lake management plan for every lake is simply not feasible.
The Florida Lake Region classification system was initiated to provide a framework of the
different types of lakes in the state so that management plans can be developed for groups of
lakes with similar characteristics.
This classification system was created by grouping lakes based on similarities in physiography,*
geology,* soils, hydrology,* water chemistry, vegetation, and climate. It was a cooperative effort
involving the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection, and researchers at the University of Florida's Department of Fisheries and
Data used for the project were collected from hundreds of lakes in Florida, by scientists, students, and
citizen volunteers. The three-year project resulted in the definition of 47 regions, which are described in a
final report Lake Regions ofFlorida (Griffith, G.E., et al. 1997), published by the U.S. EPA (EPA/R-
By documenting regional differences within the 47 Florida Lake Regions, reasonable and realistic goals
can be developed for lakes individually or in groups. This approach also improves the ability to predict the
effects of lake management practices.
The Lake Regions Classification System can also
be used to assess how your lake compares with
others in its region.
To compare your LAKEWATCH lake with others in its
region you'll need to know the long-term average for each of the
four water chemistry parameters that have been monitored for
LAKEWATCH. You can obtain this information from the
Florida LAKEWATCH office by requesting a Lake Region
summary (be sure to include the name of the lake and the county
it's located in).
*Physiography is a science that deals with the physical aspects of
the earth and its life (e.g., land, sea, air, and distribution of plant
and animal life). Geology is a science that deals with the history of
the earth and its life, especially as recorded in rocks. Hydrology is
a science dealing with the properties, distribution and circulation
of water on the surface of the land.
You Can Use the Lake Regions
Classification System to...
SEstablish realistic goals for your lake.
For example, if a lake's water clarity is among the highest of Florida LAKEWATCH Was
the lakes in its Lake Region, then it might be impractical to try to Essential To The Lake
make the water even more clear. You may well be up against Regions Project
limitations imposed by the hydrology, geology, and climate of
that area. The LAKEWATCH data "bank"
was one of the primary databases
> Choose effective management strategies. used in the study. These monthly
long-term data provided scientists
Once you have set management goals for your lake, you will wih a picture o season
have to choose among many management techniques. Knowing trends and patterns in the lakes
the characteristics of lakes in your Lake Region can help you studied.
choose among them. For example, consider a lake that is located
in the Lakeland / Bone Valley Upland Region. This lake region > LAKEWATCH volunteers
has been identified as: provided access to private lakes
enabling researchers to gather
.. an area where soils are naturally rich in enabling researchers tga
phosphorus (with measured average lake watr c ity sapl an
total phosphorus concentrations ranging conduct aquatic plant surveys.
from 59 pg/L to 965 pg/L). Lakes located in The use of LAKEWATCH data
this region typically have an abundance of saved tax dollars. If an agency or
algae, aquatic plants, and wildlife. private company collected the
Imagine you want to increase the water clarity in this lake and same data, it would have cost
are considering reducing the lake's total phosphorus values below thousands of dollars.
59 pg/L as an effective way to achieve this goal. The information
that waterbodies in this Lake Region are "naturally rich in
phosphorus" and that 59 uig/L is already at the bottom of the observed phosphorus range, suggests that
further reducing the phosphorus level in this lake would probably be very expensive and labor intensive.
Other options such as appropriate aquatic plant management strategies might have a better chance of
success and should be explored.
To learn how to set goals for your lake, ask LAKEWATCH to send you the free booklet, "How To Create a
Lake Management Plan" developed by Jess VanDyke of The Florida Department of Environmental
Protection in cooperation with Florida LAKEWATCH.
> Monitor over the long term to see if your lake remains consistent with others in
your Lake Region or if it becomes atypical.
For example, consider a lake located in the Lake Wales Ridge Transition Region that has average total
chlorophyll values higher than the average maximum values for other lakes in this region. The fact that
this lake is atypical suggests that something may have occurred which changed the original character of
the lake. It may be possible to reverse the effect, if its cause can be determined.
The Lake Region Classification System is just one way of grouping lakes.
For more information or to discuss this handout, call our toll free number:
1-800-LAKEWATCH (1-800-525-3928). We always welcome your
questions, comments, and suggestions.
SDepartment of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences UNIVERSITY OF
SPPO Box 110600 Gainesville, FL 32611
Phone: 1-800-LAKEWATCH (1-800-525-3928) FLORIDA
Fax: (352) 846-1088 E-mail: lakewat@.ufl.edutitte of Food and Agricltral Sences
ATCH Website: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sences.ifas.ufl.edu/akewatch/index.ht
1 Website: Ihp w int .ifas.ufl.edu/~lakewatch/index.htm
Florida Lake Regions
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Figure 1. Map of the Florida Lake Regions (Griffith et al. 1997)