GAINESVILLE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection held a public workshop today to further develop water quality restoration goals for Lochloosa Lake and Cross Creek, two waters in the Ocklawaha River Basin. Both waters are nutrient enriched, containing excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous.
“Every waterbody is different,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “These meetings allow us to use the knowledge and expertise of local stakeholders to develop more informed, productive restoration goals.”
The restoration goals, known as TMDLs or total maximum daily loads, define the maximum amount of a specific pollutant allowable in a waterbody that will still enable the waterbody to maintain its health and function. At today’s workshop, DEP representatives discussed draft TMDLs for the impaired waterbodies and schedule for proposing and finalizing the TMDLs. These restoration goals will be the foundation for the next step in the water quality restoration process, which is to develop and implement the restoration plan.
Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous are naturally present in water and normally support the growth of aquatic plants, the foundation of the waterbody’s ecosystem. When nutrients are present in excess, however, nutrient pollution can cause rapid algal growth, algal mats and even harmful algal blooms. Rapid algal growth can deplete the oxygen in the water, smother natural habitat and act as a navigational hazard for boats.
Lochloosa Lake and Cross Creek are both located in Alachua County. These waterbodies are part of the Ocklawaha River Basin, which covers more than 2,700 square miles, running from north of Gainesville down to Lake Lowery near Haines City, and includes over 1,000 large and small lakes.
For more information on the workshops and TMDL program, please click here.