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Lake Jackson Restoration Project

The Lake Jackson Restoration Project was completed in early 2001. The information below was created during the project. An agenda to the Board of County Commissioners, summarizing the project can be found here.

Why is Lake Jackson important ?

Lake Jackson, a valuable natural resource and renowned bass-fishing destination, has been designated as a state Aquatic Preserve and an Outstanding Florida Water.  Tourism and local spending associated with recreational use of the lake generate more than $10 million annually for our local economy.

How healthy is the lake ?

Unfortunately, Lake Jackson has experienced an ecological decline for the last 30 years, beginning with construction of Interstate 10 and commercial area along North Monroe Street.  The trend continues today as development spreads throughout the watershed.

This intensive rate of growth has led to a greater amount of stormwater runoff, which carries large quantities of pollutants into the lake.  Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers and other sources have diminished the lake's water quality and spurred the growth of many potentially harmful and invasive plants such as blue-green algae, hydrilla and water hyacinth.

Accelerated plant growth, massive quantities of decaying vegetation and the accumulation of organic muck on the lake bottom have seriously affected the habitat and ecological integrity of the lake.  Degraded water quality has been found throughout the lake but particularly in the southern portion in and near Megginnis and Fords arms.

Since the early 1980s, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, federal, state and local government agencies and private entities have been working to improve Lake Jackson's water quality.  These cooperative efforts have resulted in many improvements, including several new and retrofitted stormwater treatment facilities and a large-scale sediment removal project in Megginnis Arm.

In addition, more that 1,500 acres of environmentally sensitive land near the lake have been acquired by the City of Tallahassee, the State of Florida and the District to improve the lake's water quality, preserve area ecosystems and protect archaeological resources.  More preservation and restoration activities will take place in the future.

What are the plans for lake restoration during the natural dewatering ?

The first phase of the project will involve removing nuisance aquatic plants, accumulated muck and debris from the southern portion adjacent to Megginnis and Fords arms.  This sediment would be deposited in borrow pits and other nearby upland sites, which can appropriate governmental agencies.  If the lake level remains low, it may be possible to conduct other activities such as organic muck removal from other areas of the lake and habitat enhancement.  Trash cleanup events and education programs may take place as well.

What pollutants are in the muck ?

The organic muck that will be removed has high levels of nutrients, which cause algal blooms and excessive growth of invasive aquatic plants.  A sampling program conducted by the Northwest Florida Water Management District has shown that the sediment is nontoxic, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, and may be suitable for many different uses.  There are very low levels of heavy metals, but the amount of these pollutants is so small that no special handling of the material is required.

Who is involved in the cleanup effort ?

This is a large-scale cooperative effort, which involves the Leon County Board of County Commissioners, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission(FWC), Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD), Friends of Lake Jackson and other groups.  Funding and in-kind services are being provided by Leon County and the FWC, with the NWFWMD providing technical support and coordination.

Will certain areas of the lake be targeted ?

Lake specialists and scientist have identified several areas in the southern portion of the lake where the muck has become particularly problematic.  As illustrated on this map, Phase I includes Megginnis and Fords arms and Phase II includes a large area in the southern portion of the lake.