To ensure the long-term health of Lake Munson, Leon County is currently conducting a drawdown of the Lake in coordination with the State of Florida. The drawdown is part of the County's ongoing and long-term Action Plan to protect and preserve Lake Munson both now and into the future.
The Lake Munson Action Plan, adopted in October 2022 by the Leon County Board of County Commissioners (Board), includes a drawdown of Lake Munson, which began on November 1, 2022. Over the winter months, Leon County received more rainfall than anticipated and at the March 21, 2023, Board meeting the drawdown was extended through the Spring of 2024.
As always, Leon County will continue to closely monitor Lake Munson throughout and after the drawdown to ensure the water body's health and quality.
How Drawdowns Help Water Quality
At Lake Munson, Leon County is currently utilizing a lake management technique, called a drawdown, to help improve and maintain water quality, manage algae and invasive exotic plants in the water, and allow the nutrient-rich sediment to compact.
The drawdown will benefit the ecological system and improve the water quality in several ways:
- Algal Blooms and Invasive Exotic Plant Management: The drawdown can help mitigate recent algal blooms and the rapid growth of an invasive exotic aquatic plant (hydrilla) in Lake Munson. Lowering the water level can disrupt the life cycles of these organisms, reducing their populations. This disruption also allows better management of the vegetation when the Lake refills.
- Sediment Management: Drawdowns allow the nutrient-rich sediments to de-water, compact, oxidize, and form a hardened crust over the lake bottom. This hardened crust serves to “cap” the underlying sediment which provides a habitat for fish spawning and reduces nutrient recycling into the water once the Lake is re-flooded. The Action Plan includes quarterly aerial topographic surveys of the Lake bottom. These surveys will measure the elevations of compacted sediment, providing valuable data on the progress and effectiveness of the drawdown.
- Water Quality Improvements: The compaction and capping of the sediment will reduce the nutrients leaving the sediment and entering the water; thereby improving the water quality. The Action Plan includes enhanced water quality monitoring to closely study the changes in the Lake's water quality during and after the drawdown, contributing to an overall understanding of the Lake's health.
Why Not Dredge
Dredging can harm Lake Munson by disturbing and resuspending the sediment and contaminants, damaging habitats, removing natural seed sources giving way for invasive exotic vegetation, and potentially creating a sinkhole by opening an underlying karst feature.
- Foot traffic is permitted; however, visitors should use caution. Swallets (small flowing streams) are unmarked, and the footing is unpredictable on the soft mud and vegetation throughout the lake bottom. Visitors should not go into the remaining pools because the lake bottom sediments are unstable.
- All fishing, hunting and boating regulations are still in effect and are administered and enforced by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
- Lake-bottom driving with any motorized vehicle is prohibited and strictly enforced. All biological, cultural and historical resources are protected on sovereign submerged state lands. State and local government agencies will work together on research, monitoring, management and outreach as the drawdown progresses.
For more information on the Lake Munson Drawdown, contact Anna Padilla, Stormwater Management Coordinator, at 850-606-1500 or PadillaA@LeonCountyFL.gov.
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