Title: A Citizens Guide to the SWIM Priority List
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00000997/00001
 Material Information
Title: A Citizens Guide to the SWIM Priority List
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: A Citizens Guide to the SWIM Priority List Southwest Florida Water Management District
General Note: Box 7, Folder 4 ( Vail Conference 1989 - 1989 ), Item 96
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00000997
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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A Citn's Guide
to the Priort st

Table of Contents

Introduction ............................................... ................................................... 3
Ranked Priority List
Tam pa Bay ................................................................. ...............................5
Rainbow River (Blue Run).................................................................. 6
Banana Lake ................................................................................... . ..... 7
Crystal River/Kings Bay .................................... .......... 8
Lake Panasoffkee .....................................................................................
Charlotte Harbor/Placida Harbor............................................................... 10
Lake Tarpon ............................ ........... ............... 11
Lake Thonotosassa ........................................ ....... ......................... 12
Unranked Water Bodies
Restoration Category
Lake Hancock,
Lake M aggiore ........................................................ ............................... 13
Lake Okahumpka,
Lake Parker ............................................. ...... ............. 14
Lake Reedy,
Lake Seminole...................................................... ................................. 15
Conservation/Preservation Category
Lake Ariana,
Lake Buffum ............................................................................................ 16
Chassahowitzka River,
Crooked Lake .......................................... ................. .............................. 17
Cypress Creek,
Lake Garfield ........................................................................................... 18
Homosassa River,
Lake Jackson ............................................................. ...............................19
Lake Josephine,
Lake June-In-W inter ................................... ..............................................20
Peace River,
Lake Placid .......................................................................................... ....21
Shell Creek/Prairie Creek,
Weekiwachee River/Mud River ....................................................................22
Glossary ................................................................. ...................................23

Introduction QLG

The Surface Water Improvement
and Management Act, or "SWIM" for
short, was signed into law by Gover-
nor Bob Martinez on June 29, 1987.
This landmark legislation set up a
program and provided initial funding
to begin the cleanup and restoration
of polluted surface waters in Florida,
along with the preservation of threat-
ened water bodies around the state.
The state's five water management
districts are responsible for imple-
menting the law.
The SWIM Act identifies several
priority water bodies, including Lake
Okeechobee, Biscayne Bay, Lake
Apopka, the lower St. Johns River,
the Indian River Lagoon, and in
southwest Florida Tampa Bay and
its tributaries. Each water manage-
ment district is required to address
those priority water bodies in its
area, and also to prepare a priority
list of other water bodies in need of
restoration, conservation and/or
Actual cleanup efforts will take
place over a number of years. Funds
will be provided through a trust fund
administered by the state Depart-
ment of Environmental Regulation.
The trust fund will provide 80
percent of the money, while the
water management districts will
supply the remaining 20 percent.
The Southwest Florida Water
Management District, which was
assigned responsibility for Tampa
Bay, has also completed and adopted
a priority list of lakes, rivers,
streams, estuaries and bays that need
A total of 67 water bodies were
nominated for the list by local gov-
ernments, state agencies and the
public. Initial evaluations by District
staff placed each of the water bodies
in one of four general categories:

1) Deferred from Consideration:
These water bodies will be deferred for
various reasons (usually for a lack of
supporting data) from consideration
for this year's list. But they may be re-
considered in subsequent years;
2) Proposed Projects of Local
Significance: These projects, because
of their smaller size and scope, could
be better managed through locally
sponsored programs;
3) Ongoing District or Agency
Programs: Water bodies in this cate-
gory are the subject of ongoing re-
search or programs. The need for
further work on them through the
SWIM program will be evaluated after
completion of the current studies.
4) Proposed SWIM Priority List:
These are water bodies of regional or
statewide significance which warrant
restoration or protection under the
SWIM program. Water bodies in the
"Restoration" sub-category are affected
by factors which threaten water
quality, ecological condition, or recrea-
tional and other uses. The "Conserva-
tion/Preservation" sub-category
includes water bodies that are in
generally good condition, but will be
threatened to varying degrees if steps
are not taken to preserve and protect

To help evaluate the nominations,
a 12-member Ad-Hoc Committee was
set up with representatives from the
Department of Environmental Regula-
tion, the Department of Natural
Resources, the Florida Game and Fresh
Water Fish Commission and the
A categorized list of all 67 nomi-
nees was given to committee members
in the fall of 1987. The committee
developed a consensus list of 28
priority water bodies, and presented
this proposed list to the District's

A Citizen's Guide
to the SWIM Priority List

Governing Board in December. The
initial list did not include rankings,
but simply indicated the appropriate
sub-category for each water body
within the list. The evaluation process
continued with a series of public
workshops held in January 1988 at
each of the District's service offices.
These meetings helped the District
gain more public comment on the
SWIM priority list, and also provided
an opportunity for public discussions
of the SWIM program in general.
After reviewing the December list
and considering the views presented
at the workshops, the District's SWIM
staff ranked those water bodies which
could be addressed during FY 88 and
the upcoming fiscal year. The staff
then presented its recommendations
for a ranked priority list at the January
1988 Governing Board meeting. The
most important change to the list since
the previous board meeting was

A Ranked Priori
1 Tampa Bay
2 Rainbow River (B
3 Baana Lake
4 Crystal River/Kin
5 Lake Panasoffkee
6 Charlotte Harbor,
7 Lake Tarpon
8 Lake Thonotasass
N Unranked Wa
Restoration Ca
9 Lake Hancock
10 Lake Maggiore
11 Lake Okahumpka
12 Lake Parker
13 Lake Reedy
14 Lake Seminole

inclusion of priority rankings for eight
of the water bodies. Since the list will
be re-evaluated each year as required
by the legislation, it would have been
impractical to rank water bodies
which could not be addressed in the
near future.
The Ranked Priority List was
adopted by the District Governing
Board in February 1988, and presented
to the Department of Environmental
Regulation in time to meet the March 1
deadline imposed by the legislation.
The following pages summarize
the status of the water bodies on the
list, indicate their location, and explain
current problems and possible solu-
tions. The eight priority water bodies
are listed first by order of their rank,
and the remaining 20 have been
designated as candidates for either
restoration or conservation/preserva-
tion. They are arranged alphabeti-

ty List O Unranked
Water Bodies --
lue Run) Conservation/
Preservation Category
gsBay 15 Lake Ariana
16Lake Buffum
Placida Harbor 17 Chassahowitzka River
18 Crooked Lake
S19 Cypress Creek
20 Lake Garfield
ter Bodies-- 21 Homosassa River
category 22 Lake Jackson
23 Lake Josephine
24 Lake June-In-Winter
25 Peace River
26 Lake Placid
27 Shell Creek/Prairie Creek
28 Weeki Wachee River/Mud River

Ranked Priority List

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay was identified by the
Florida Legislature as a water body
deserving priority consideration for
restoration under the Surface Water
Improvement and Management
Program. It is the largest open water
estuary in Florida, with 398 square
miles of surface area at high tide.
The bay is bordered by Hillsbor-
ough, Pinellas and Manatee counties,
and has a drainage area of more than
2,200 square miles. Tampa Bay is the
natural resource most responsible,
both historically and currently, for the
economic vitality of this region. It is
also the most valuable ecological and
recreational resource in the area.
Non-point pollution sources -
especially urban and agricultural
runoff and nutrient release from
sediments account for a significant
percentage of the pollutants going into
the bay. But there are also 188 munici-
pal and industrial point source dis-

The Tampa skyline towers over the eastern
part of Tampa Bay.

charges entering the bay. Decades of
declining water quality, combined
with increased development along the
shoreline, have resulted in the loss of
44 percent of the mangroves and
marshes around the bay, as well as 81
percent of the seagrasses.
Water quality has improved in
recent years, however. The City of St.
Petersburg eliminated its domestic
wastewater discharge through the use
of a reclaimed water system and deep
well injection, and Tampa brought a
new advanced wastewater treatment
plant on line.
Much remains to be done to
restore water quality and natural
systems in the bay to their full poten-
tial. The District is restoring the bay
by following a detailed management
plan that identifies priority issues and
outlines specific programs to address
or solve the problems.

A itien's Guide
to WM Priorty List

A Citizen's Guide
to the SWIM PrNor*ty List

Rainbow River (Blue Run)

Rainbow River, also known as
Blue Run, is a spring-fed 5.7 mile
long tributary of the Withlacoochee
River located in Marion County near
Dunellon. It is a state aquatic pre-
serve, and has been designated an
Outstanding Florida Water because
of its excellent water quality. More
than 220,000 people each year use the
river for recreation. In fact, Marion
County has several licensed public
beaches on Blue Run.
However, residential develop-
ment along the river and the septic
tank systems that come with the
houses could threaten water quality
in Rainbow River. Fecal coliform
bacteria levels already are elevated
periodically in some areas. Despite
occasional high bacteria counts, the

river is in good biological condition.
Water quality ranges from good in
the lower reaches to excellent in the
Rainbow River is a high priority
for conservation and preservation
under the SWIM program. Land
acquisition in the river's watershed
might be a viable alternative to
accomplish this. The river is already
ranked thirteenth on the state's
Conservation and Recreation Lands
(CARL) acquisition list, which means
that state purchase of part of the
system could occur within a year.
Public ownership provides the best
opportunity for protection of threat-
ened natural resources, while still
allowing many recreational uses of
the land.

The crystal clear waters of Rainbow River
are a favorite canoeing spot for people in
the northern part of the District.

A Citizen's Guide
to theSWIMPrtor Lt

Banana Lake

Banana Lake is a small, shallow
water body covering 256 acres,
located just southeast of Lakeland in
Polk County. It is part of the head-
waters of the Peace River, which
provides an important water supply
for residential development and
agriculture in the southern part of the
For 60 years, the city of Lakeland
pumped up to 10 million gallons per
day of treated domestic wastewater
effluent into the lake. The effluent
may have carried as much as 90
percent of the nutrients entering the
lake. Even though the city stopped
discharging to the lake in May 1987,
water quality is not rapidly improv-
ing. A layer of sediment several feet
thick covers most of the lake bottom,

Hydraulic dredging is one possible
restoration alternative being considered for
Banana Lake.

and continues to release excessive
amounts of nutrients into the water.
Organic muck build-up has
reduced the maximum depth of the
lake to four feet. Poor water quality,
shallow depth and the muck bottom
have combined to result in a com-
plete lack of any sport fisheries.
Aside from duck hunting, other
recreational uses are virtually non-
existent. The only access to the lake
is an unimproved public boat ramp.
Because of high nutrient levels
and sediment accumulations, the lake
is in poor biological condition.
Dredging has been proposed by
several involved agencies as a
restoration alternative. Preliminary
cost estimates have been in the
neighborhood of $1.8 million.


A Citizen's Guide
to the SWIM Priofity Ust

Crystal River/Kings Bay

Crystal River is a 7 mile long
spring-fed stream flowing from Kings
Bay into the Gulf of Mexico. This
freshwater/estuarine system in Citrus
County is used by thousands of
Floridians and visitors for fishing,
boating, SCUBA diving, snorkeling
and other forms of recreation. The
Florida Manatee is also a well-known
resident of the area.
The Crystal River/Kings Bay
system was nominated for the SWIM
priority list by the state Department of
Environmental Regulation. While
water quality is generally very good,
there are periodic aquatic weed and
blue-green algae problems. In addi-
tion, high bacteria levels have occa-
sionally closed beaches. These prob-

lems may be related to the two waste-
water treatment plants discharging
into the river, along with septic tanks
and urban stormwater runoff. Long
term preservation efforts will have to
address these potential pollution
The committee that evaluated
nominations to the SWIM priority list
has recommended preparation of a
management plan to preserve and
protect Crystal River and Kings Bay.
Even though the Kings Bay area
already is fairly well developed, there
is certainly the potential and probabil-
ity of further growth. Proper manage-
ment of the resource can help protect it
from that growth.

Manatees are frequent visitors to Crystal
River and Kings Bay.

Lake Panasoffkee

Lake Panasoffkee is a 4,460 acre
lake near the Withlacoochee River in
Sumter County. It is heavily fished,
and was nominated by the DER and
Sumter County partly because of its
regional significance as a recreational
The lake has a maximum depth of
only 10 feet. While there have been
no documented violations of water
quality standards, there is a periodic
weed problem. Septic tanks located
mostly on the western shore may be
contributing nutrients that aggravate
the situation. Sediment accumulation
and lake level fluctuation are also
topics of local concern.
Totally undeveloped hardwood
swamp still dominates the eastern
shore, and the land around the lake
is still mostly rural. But the area could

eventually see substantial develop-
ment pressure.
There is already strong support for
conservation and preservation from
Save Our Lakes, Inc., a local
organization involved in lake manage-
ment issues. Also, the Southwest
Florida Water Management District
has removed the Rufe Wysong Dam
on the Withlacoochee River. The lake
is connected to the Withlacoochee by a
small outlet river that joins the
Withlacoochee just upstream from the
Wysong Dam. The dam had some
control over the lake's water level, and
its removal promotes more natural
fluctuations in the level of Lake
Panasoffkee. These fluctuations will
be considered in the District's manage-
ment plan for the lake.

Lake Panasoffkee has a reputation as a good
bass-fishing lake.

Charlotte Harbor/Placida Harbor

The Charlotte Harbor/Placida
Harbor system is a relatively pristine
open water estuary covering 277
square miles near the southern bound-
ary of the district. The Peace River and
Myakka River both flow into the
harbor, which supports major commer-
cial and recreational saltwater fisheries.
While the harbor is still in very
good condition, numerous potential
threats could pose problems if they are
not addressed soon. For example,
there are point and non-point sources
of pollution along the Peace River and
other tributaries entering the estuary.
Water in residential canals is low in
dissolved oxygen, making it difficult
for marine life to survive there. The

future of the system probably depends
on managing the effects of increased
development, reducing the level of
pollution in the Peace River, maintain-
ing an optimum amount of freshwater
flow into the harbor, and protecting
seagrasses, mangroves and other
shoreline vegetation.
The system is slated for conserva-
tion and preservation under the SWIM
program. Local government already
has developed a Charlotte Harbor
Management Plan, which will be
revised to meet the goals of the SWIM
program. Considerable baseline data
to help monitor the system is available
as well, and should be very useful.

Pristine Charlotte Harbor is an excellent
place to enjoy some of Florida's last
unspoiled coastal waters.

'V """'"" 'N"'r Y'

A Citie w s Guide
t. the SWIM Pd.oy List

Lake Tarpon

Lake Tarpon is the largest lake in
Pinellas County, the most densely
populated county in Florida. The lake
covers more than 2,500 acres, and is
widely used for swimming, fishing
and boating by people from all around
the Tampa Bay area. There are several
parks and numerous public boat
ramps to provide public access to
the lake.
There may be excess nutrients in
the lake. The Lake Tarpon fishery is
apparently in good condition, even
though blue green algae blooms
occasionally have covered much of the
lake and severely limited recreation.
Much attention is already focused
on Lake Tarpon, particularly since the
algae blooms of the last few years. A

Recreational boaters from all around the
Tampa Bay area use Lake Tarpon's wide
expanses of open water.

technical advisory committee is in
place with representatives of various
state and local government agencies
working to develop a management
plan for the lake's watershed. The
District has representatives from the
SWIM program on that committee to
offer help and expertise to the
committee's efforts. SWIM staff will
be responsible for final preparation
of the management plan, and will
continue to be advised by the
Municipalities around the lake are
working to eliminate the use of septic
tanks in the watershed. Also, a local
lake organization called SOLID (Save
Our Lake -- Invite Discussion) is very
supportive of restoration efforts.

A Citizen's Guide
to the SWIM Prloy st

Lake Thonotosassa

Lake Thonotosassa in northeast
Hillsborough County is an 819 acre
lake that empties into the Hillsbor-
ough River, which is the major water
supply for the City of Tampa. It is the
largest freshwater body in the county,
and is one of the few lakes in Hillsbor-
ough County with public access.
The lake is badly in need of
restoration. Its numerous problems
include high bacteria levels and low
dissolved oxygen concentrations.
These factors contributed in 1969 to
what was, at that time, the largest
reported fish kill in the country. More
than 26.5 million fish were destroyed.
Plant City's wastewater treatment
plant discharges into this lake, and
will be a factor in the development of

any restoration plan.
Point and non-point sources of
pollution have made the lake too rich
in nutrients. Shoreline vegetation and
wetlands have also been lost over a
considerable area because of a seawall.
Implementation of a management plan
cannot be considered until point
sources such as the Plant City effluent
discharge are addressed. The city has
made efforts to improve the quality of
the discharge, but more work is
Hillsborough County is develop-
ing some of the area around the lake
into a park. This type of use is
consistent with the goals of the SWIM
program, and would also help prevent
further pollution of the lake.

Recreational fishing is still a popular way
to spend a day at Lake Thonotosassa.


Unranked Water Bodies Restoration Category A tiGu
___________________________________________to ____^ t~he W IM Pk io Ust

Lake Hancock

Lake Hancock is part of the headwa-
ters of the Peace River system, and at 4,519
acres it is the largest lake in the Peace River
Basin. But the lake is also on a 1983 DER
list of the 50 Florida lakes in greatest need
of restoration. Recreational use is severely
limited because of high bacteria counts and
poor water quality.
Lake Hancock is in poor biological
condition. The shoreline is largely
undeveloped, but several major point
sources put excess nutrients into Lake
Hancock. One of these sources is drainage
from Banana Lake, which is one of the
ranked water bodies slated for restoration
on this priority list. Polk County has noted
that because of the nutrient rich sediments
already in Lake Hancock, water quality
probably would not improve much even
after removal of the current point sources
entering the lake.
Dredging has been proposed as a

restoration strategy, but cost estimates so
far have ranged from $6 million to $24
million depending on the extent of the
dredging. Point sources will have to be
addressed before any restoration work can
be successful.
There is already strong local govern-
ment and public
support for the res-
toration of Banana
Lake, which is up-
stream of Lake
Hancock. Polk
County has also de-
veloped its own Lake
lakes monitoring Hancock
program, and this
could provide much
useful information
for the restoration of
these important
regional resources.

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore is a 380 acre tidally-
influenced freshwater lake in St. Peters-
burg. It is an important source of recrea-
tion for residents of Pinellas County, with
access by public boat ramps. It was
nominated for the list by the city of St.
Petersburg, Pinellas County and the
Southwest District of the DER.
Water quality in Lake Maggiore is
poor, with high nutrient levels caused by
untreated urban stormwater runoff.
Swimming in the lake has been perma-
nently banned because of high bacteria
levels. An aeration system has been in use
since 1976 to prevent fish kills caused by
the lake's low dissolved oxygen concentra-
Even so, the lake is still highly used
for recreation. Speedboat races are held

there periodically as well. Lake Maggiore
is adjacent to Boyd Hill Nature Park,
which is itself another major recreational
resource for the area.
The potential for restoration depends
largely on the feasibility of treating the
urban runoff that is fouling the lake.
Retrofitting is an alternative, but is usually
very expensive.
Sediment removal
may also be consid-
ered. The District's
Basin Board has ap- 75
proved $275,000 in
its 1989 budget for a
ity study on the

Lake Okahumpka

Lake Okahumpka is a 670 acre lake
located southeast of the community of
Wildwood in Sumter County. Its recrea-
tional use is limited primarily to duck
hunting, and there is a boat ramp on the
north shore.
This lake is in
very poor condi-
tion, and is choked
44 with weeds that
S us severely limit
recreational use.
Lake The District is

currently studying in-flow to the lake at
the request of Sumter County. Results will
indicate what changes if any have been
made in recent years to the natural flow of
water into Lake Okahumpka. The study
will also show what effect these changes
may have had on lake levels.
There is strong local and county
support for the restoration of Lake
Okahumpka. The feasibility of that
restoration is likely to depend on the
strategy used to control the aquatic weeds
that clog the lake.

Lake Parker

Lake Parker covers 2,272 acres in a
highly urbanized watershed within the
City of Lakeland. Recreational use is high,
but is threatened by poor water quality.
The lake is on a 1983 DER list of the 50
Florida lakes most in need of restoration.

stormwater runoff
is probably the
main cause of Lake
Parker's poor water
quality. In addi-
tion, the lake has a

surface connection to old phosphate pits.
Lake level fluctuations needed for a
healthy lake are held to a minimum to ac-
commodate the water needs of a power
plant. None of this benefits water quality
in the lake.
The Lake Education Action Drive, a
local citizens' conservation group, strongly
supports efforts to help save the lake.
Restoration may be very expensive,
however, because additions and improve-
ments to stormwater treatment systems are
usually high cost items.

_ ~____I____

A Citizen s Guide
to the SWIM PrIorlty List

Lake Reedy

Lake Reedy is a major recreational
resource for residents of Polk County.
The 3,486 acre lake near Frostproof is
popular for fishing and boating, and there
is a county park on the south shore.
But industrial discharges and storm-
water runoff appear to be overloading the
lake with nutrients. Bacteria problems
and low dissolved oxygen levels are
common. Although treated domestic was-
tewater effluent is no longer discharged to
the lake, a citrus processing plant contin-
ues to dispose of its waste there. Storm-

Lake Seminole

Lake Seminole is a 665 acre lake in
Pinellas County that supports sport fishing
and recreation, with public access avail-
able and a county park on its shores.
Pinellas is the most densely populated
county in the state, and that is one of the
reasons for the problems facing this lake.
Fishing is still good, but water quality
suffers because of untreated stormwater
runoff from the highly urbanized water-
shed around the lake. Grass carp have
been stocked in an effort to help bring
aquatic weeds under control. But the

water runoff may also be a contributing
Habitat and fisheries could be
improved with implementation of a lake
fluctuation schedule. But restoration
under the SWIM -
program cannot be.
completed until
point-source dis-
charges such as the
citrus plant are

excess nutrients from the runoff will con-
tinue to hinder the lake's health unless
they can be removed from the water.
Lake Seminole is a candidate for
restoration. But the usually high cost of
adding stormwater .
treatment facilities
in a built-up area is
an important factor 59
in determining the
feasibility of a
SWIM-funded res-

.. .. .. ... ....- [ --.''iiii ,1

Ats Gi Conservation/Preservation Category

Lake Ariana

Lake Ariana is a 1,000 acre lake near
Auburndale in Polk County. It is in
reasonably good biological condition, and
recreational access is provided through
several boat ramps and beaches.
While there are
no known point-
Ssource discharges
1 Mb to the lake, there
have been bacteria
sntary I ^ problems that
Resulted in beach
closures several

times over the last two years. The major
pollutant source appears to be untreated
stormwater runoff. The city is not sure of
the source of the bacteria problem, and that
makes the formulation of an effective man-
agement plan that much more difficult.
Development pressure around the
lake is not a serious problem, at least not in
the near future. The lake was nominated
by the City of Auburndale, and its plans,
policies and ordinances are expected to be
consistent with the District's efforts to
preserve and improve the lake.

Lake Buffum

Lake Buffum is a 1,543 acre Polk
County lake that has a good recreational
fishery and no documented violations of
state water quality standards. In fact,
there is still a
| considerable
I expanse of contigu-
j ous wetlands along
S the lake's southern
7 But occasional
bacterial contami-
\ I nation sometimes

affects recreational use. There is also the
potential for increased development in the
area, though it is relatively undisturbed
right now.
Area residents are also concerned
about low water levels in the lake. District
staff has determined that the lake level
could be raised one to two feet simply by
raising the elevation of the outlet culvert.
The lake would certainly benefit from a
management plan, and has the potential to
be a low cost project because water quality
is still quite good.

Chassahowitzka River

The Chassahowitzka is a short river -
only 5.5 miles long in the southern part of
Citrus County. It is a popular recreation
site with recreational boaters and campers,
and still offers good fishing.
Water quality in the river remains
good, and this watershed is not under the
same development pressures as similar
watersheds in the region. There is,
however, a need for weed control in the
canals along the river.
The District may consider acquisition
of 3,720 acres of the watershed as part of
the Save Our Rivers program. The site to
be evaluated is one of the largest remaining
examples of a coastal hardwood swamp on

the Gulf of Mexico, and includes a two
mile stretch of the river's headwaters. It is
also contiguous to the Chassahowitzka
National Wildlife Refuge, which is
managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The Chassahow-
itzka watershed is
still in relatively
good condition, and
public ownership of chafmar n
important parts of
that watershed can
help ensure its
protection for the

Crooked Lake

Crooked Lake has been designated by
the Florida Department of Environmental
Regulation as an Outstanding Florida
Water, the highest level of protection the
state can give to a surface water body.
Water quality is generally quite good in
this 5,538 acre Polk County lake.
The watershed is still mostly undevel-
oped, but the effects of future development
could threaten the lake if steps are not
taken to protect it. Crooked Lake already
has a water level management plan, but
would benefit from development of a com-
prehensive watershed management plan.

Local governments in the area are
supportive, as are the Defenders of
Crooked Lake, a very active local conserva-
tion group.
The lake is currently 10 to 12 feet
below its historic
normal level.
District staff is
looking into the
reasons for the
extreme drop in
water levels, as well Lake
as possible solutions
to the problem.

A Citien's Guide
toth SWIM RolMy Lst

Cypress Creek

Cypress Creek winds through the
trees along a 20 mile path through Pasco
and Hillsborough Counties before it
eventually empties into the Hillsborough
River, which supplies 80 percent of
Tampa's drinking
Water quality
Sis good, but large
75 a scale development
of part of the water-
shed in northern

County is imminent. The watershed is still
in relatively good condition, and public
ownership of critical portions of it would
help preserve the system for the future.
The District is working to complete
the purchase of a 7,470 acre tract of the
heavily forested Cypress Creek Swamp
formed by the creek as it flows south to the
Hillsborough River. Nearly 4,200 acres
already have been acquired, and
acquisition of the remaining 3,300 acres
would bring nearly 9 miles of the creek
into public ownership.

Lake Garfield

Lake Garfield in Polk County is
heavily used for recreational fishing.
Although the lake occasionally dries up
completely, water quality when there is
water is still generally good. Garfield is a
relatively small lake, covering just 655
acres, or about one
Isquare mile.
The Florida
Game and Fresh-
water Fish Com-
mission has shown
Sk much interest in the

lake, and in fact nominated it for the
SWIM Priority List. The greatest potential
threat to the lake is the possibility for
future development on or near its shores.
But Polk County has a good environmental
program. It is hoped that their policies and
programs would be consistent with the
District's objectives for the lake.
Because of its comparatively small size
and good biological health, preservation
efforts for Lake Garfield may be
implemented at a relatively low cost.

Homosassa River and Halls Branch

The Homosassa River and Halls
Branch together form the principal parts of
a major freshwater and estuarine system in
coastal Citrus County. The 7.5 mile long
river system is a popular site for recrea-
tional boating, and access is available
through a public boat ramp.
Water quality in the system is usually
very good, but high bacteria counts have
periodically restricted recreation on the
river. Algae problems similar to those in
nearby Crystal River have also been docu-
mented. Citrus County is currently
conducting a water quality study to learn

Lake Jackson

Lake Jackson is a 3,412 acre lake
adjacent to the town of Sebring in High-
lands County. Numerous ramps provide
access to the lake, and it is heavily used for
Like several lakes in Highlands
County, Lake Jackson has very good water
quality along with plenty of public access.
It is the most urbanized of the West Chain
of Lakes, with residential and commercial
development almost completely covering
the shoreline. Further development could
pose a serious threat to this lake.

more about the health of the river.
It is still possible to protect and
preserve this system. Land acquisition is
one possible strategy, and will be consid-
ered along with
other management
alternatives. One
factor that would f
affect the feasibil-
ity of preservation
would be the cost
of the lands to be

Development in this watershed,
coupled with what is still very good water
quality, makes Lake Jackson a prime
candidate for a management and preserva-
tion plan. It could very well be a low cost
effort, since it may
require only the de-
velopment of a \
management plan
and a well-planned
public education 7

WA Citm 'sGuide
tothe PrioityUst

Lake Josephine

Lake Josephine in Highlands County
is home to many kinds of recreation, in-
cluding fishing, boating, water skiing and
others. Access is available through several
public boat ramps.
Water quality in this 1,236 acre lake is
similar to that of Lake Jackson, being
generally very
good. Lake
Josephine is also a
part of the West
J Chain of Lakes. Its
shoreline is 50
percent developed,

Lake June-In-Winter
Lake June-in-Winter, also known as
Lake Stems, is another of the West Chain
of Lakes in Highlands County. The 3,504
acre lake provides a place for fishing,
boating, skiing and other forms of
recreation, with access through several
public boat ramps.
The community of
Lake Placid lies on
the lake's eastern
ov The shoreline
is approximately 40

but it appears that Josephine is more likely
to be affected by agriculture rather than
urban runoff.
Aquatic weeds are an increasing
problem for the lake, and have sometimes
limited recreational use. But there have
been no documented violations of state
water quality standards. Effective weed
control combined with a management plan
and public education about the fragile
nature of lakes might make the difference
for this lake, and do so at a reasonably low
cost compared to some SWIM projects.

percent developed with low to medium
density housing. Water quality is good,
although increased residential develop-
ment could threaten the lake.
A management plan would help
preserve the lake for the benefit of all of its
users. Public education about how to
preserve the lake could help lessen the
effects of further development. Lake June-
in-Winter is another of several lakes in
Highlands County that are still in good
shape, and can potentially be protected for
a relatively low cost.



Peace River

The Peace River meanders for
approximately 100 miles through Polk,
Hardee, DeSoto and Charlotte Counties,
eventually flowing into Charlotte Harbor.
The river drains a four county area, and is
the most significant single source of fresh-
water flowing into the Charlotte Harbor
estuary. Canoeing and fishing are popular
pastimes along the river, and access is
available in many locations throughout the
Water quality in the lower reaches of
the river is generally good. But the extent
of water quality problems over the entire
river will vary because of the size and de-
velopment of the watershed. Certainly
there are some locally severe problems,

and continued degradation of the Peace
River as a whole could threaten Charlotte
Harbor, which is itself a SWIM priority
water body.
The size of the Peace River and the
number of governments and agencies
involved in
managing it will
make it a challenge
for the SWIM
program. Parts of
the river will need
only to
be preserved and
protected, while
other portions will
need to be restored.

Lake Placid

Lake Placid is a deep lake just south of
a Highlands County community bearing
the same name. It is popular for recrea-
tion, with many boat ramps and other
access points. Water quality is good,
though increased development could
present a problem.
The lake, another in the West Chain of
Lakes, is similar in Water quality and
characteristics to other lakes in the chain.
The county seems supportive of efforts to
improve the neighboring lakes, and it is
hoped the county would also support such

efforts for Lake Placid.
The shoreline is approximately 40
percent developed, mostly with low to
medium density housing. Further residen-
tial growth is probably the greatest threat
facing this lake. But it still could be an
inexpensive preser-
vation effort,
depending on the invw I
complexity of the n
management plan
adopted for it.


Shell Creek/Prairie Creek

Shell Creek is the main source of
drinking water for the City of Punta Gorda
in Charlotte County, and eventually flows
into the Peace River. Prairie Creek, which
begins in De Soto
County, is a
tributary of Shell
The District
-. will conduct a
formal resource
evaluation of a
2,752 acre tract of

land encompassing 11.5 stream miles of
Prairie Creek. If the results are favorable,
the District may consider acquisition of the
parcel as part of the Save Our Rivers
Increased residential development
could threaten the condition of both of
these creeks. However, since Shell Creek
was nominated by the same city that relies
on it for drinking water, it is probable that
local policies and plans will complement
the District's efforts and be consistent with
the goals of the SWIM program.

Weekiwachee River/Mud River

The Weekiwachee River/Mud River
system is a small but important estuarine
system in coastal Hemando County. It is a
major recreational resource commonly
used for fishing, boating, SCUBA diving,
swimming and tubing.
The District has recognized the
environmentally sensitive nature of the
wetlands habitat in
-. this system, and
will formally
evaluate the area in
the coming year for
acquisition under
the Save Our Rivers
utiJ program. The pos-

sible acquisition of up to 1,500 upstream
acres could do much to help preserve the
integrity of the system.
Future residential development
threatens the rivers. Although water
quality is still generally good, high bacteria
levels have limited some recreational use
from time to time. In addition, some of the
river bank is sea-walled, and residential
canals already have been dug in some
The cost and effectiveness of public
ownership of riverine lands versus the
other possible restoration alternatives will
ultimately determine the feasibility of
preserving this fragile natural system.


Algae bloom Excessive growth of algae in lakes and other freshwater bodies, caused by 23
substantial nutrient enrichment of the waters.

Discharge The volume of water that passes a given point within a given period of time.

Dissolved oxygen Atmospheric oxygen that is dissolved and held in solution in water.
Only a fixed amount of oxygen can be dissolved in water at a given temperature and
atmospheric pressure.

Effluent The outflow of water, as from a pipe, lake or ditch.

Estuary A semi-enclosed coastal body of water having a free connection with the open sea
and within which sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water.

Eutrophication The processes that result in a higher concentration of dissolved nutrients
in a water body.

Fecal coliform Bacteria that are present in the intestines or feces of warm-blooded animals
and that are often used as indicators of the sanitary quality of water. The greater their number,
the higher the degree of indicated pollution.

Headwaters The source and upstream waters of a stream.

Muck Organic matter and silt which commonly collect on the bottom of water bodies
because of natural processes, stormwater runoff, sewage effluent discharges, and other

Non-point source pollution Pollution that is generated over a relatively wide area such as
a city or cropland, rather than at a specific place, and that is discharged into receiving waters
at irregular intervals as a result of storm runoff.

Nutrients Substances which, in the proper concentrations, are beneficial to the health of
water bodies. When nutrient concentrations become excessive, they become pollutants.

pH A term used to describe hydrogen ion activity in an aqueous solution; a solution of pH
0 to 7 is acid; pH 7 is neutral; and pH 7 to 14 is alkaline.

Point source pollution Pollution originating at a particular place, such as a sewage
treatment facility, which tends to occur more or less continuously.

Runoff The part of precipitation that appears in surface streams after having reached the
stream channel either through surface or subsurface routes.

Sedimentation The act or process of accumulating sediments in layers.

Spring A free-flowing surface discharge of water from underground.

Surface water Water that collects in or flows through geographic features in the land;
examples are lakes, rivers, streams, and bays.

Watershed The area around a water body throughout which surface runoff collects before
flowing into a given lake, river, bay or stream. The Tampa Bay watershed, for example, covers
2,200 square miles of west central Florida.

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