Location Map of
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would require 600 to 1,000 acres of productive farmland that conservatively is worth
$5,000 per acre or $5 million. The owners of these lands are not willingly dedicating them
to this end. For over the past several decades, state environmental officials, the water
management district and the owners have negotiated, litigated and studied the problem. To
date a solution to the discharge problem has not been found.
How would an in-lake solution to this problem look?
Figure 7 shows a similar idea to the one discussed in the previous example. There are
suggested differences in this case. The state submerged lands would be leased to the farm
water control district for the purpose of treating the agricultural stormwater discharges.
The term of the lease would coincide with the remaining time the muck soils could be
economically fanned, or 30 years, whichever is less. (Under the current rate of soil
subsidence and oxidation, the Apopka muck farms have on average a useful life of
approximately 50 years). Upon the conclusion of the lease, the drainage district would be
required to stop the use of the in-lake area and restore this portion of the lake to a
previously agreed to condition.
The described approach has a number of advantages. The unaffected area of the lake
would receive treated discharges that would allow lake managers to achieve water quality
goals. A proposed treatment marsh could be built to accelerate lake restoration. This
treatment marsh would be of little value until the farm discharges are dealt with. Upon the
conclusion of the use of the in-lake area, a restored part of Lake Apopka would be returned
to the system. Under this scenario, the economic impacts of lost farm commerce and the
costs of government buy-outs are avoided.
Disadvantages of this idea do exist. The area of treatment used in the lake is removed from
the contiguous ecosystem. This is a minor disadvantage to the highly degraded existing
condition of the lake. Thirty years of farm discharges may contaminate the treatment area
such that restoration may not be economically feasible, leaving the state with a clean-up
liability. This situation might be dealt with by means of bonding or by other prearranged
agreement with the farm owners.
In-system treatment of discharges is a currently underutilized process employed by the
state's water resource managers. The primary hurdle to a more widespread application of
this idea is a policy issue. Technical hurdles are no more present than in the case of
conventional processes; in fact, there are fewer logistical problems with the preceding
examples if one considers political and economic factors in this analysis.