June 16, 2015
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – On June 22, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is hosting a meeting to discuss restoration plans for the Orange Creek Basin. DEP representatives will discuss pollutant sources, progress toward restoration and the development of additional restoration goals.
“Our work doesn’t end once we have adopted a restoration plan,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “These meetings help us to stay actively engaged with stakeholders as we identify the best path forward.”
The Orange Creek Basin restoration plan covers Newnans Lake, Orange Lake, Lake Wauberg, Hogtown Creek, Sweetwater Branch, Tumblin Creek and Alachua Sink. The lakes contain an excess of nutrients and high levels of bacteria have been an issue in Hogtown Creek, Sweetwater Branch and Tumblin Creek. To restore water quality, the department updated the restoration plan last year to further address both excess nutrients and bacteria.
Several nutrient-reduction projects have been implemented, including the city of Gainesville’s Paynes Prairie Sheetflow Project. This project includes a 125-acre wetland that will receive flow from Sweetwater Branch. The wetland will naturally remove some of the nutrients that have depreciated water quality.
In response to high levels of bacteria, the department has taken a number of samples and used a method called microbial source tracking to identify the bacteria’s origin through DNA analysis. Knowing whether the bacteria is of human or wildlife origin allows the agency to identify potential sources and develop targeted pollution-reduction strategies. Gainesville and other stakeholders continue to work with DEP to implement projects to improve water quality.
For more information on the Orange Creek restoration plan, please click here.