Water-Related News

It’s swan nesting season at Lake Morton

Motorists, Be Vigilant & Pay Attention to the Posted 20 MPH Speed Limit

LAKELAND – Swan Nesting Season is upon us in Lakeland, and we have a very rare occurrence on Lake Morton. The lone male Black Neck Swan that lost his mate during nesting season last year has wooed a new mate. This is very rare among swans to not only find a new mate, but also couple with a bird that is not the exact same species. Our Black Neck Swan is in the nest-building process with a White Mute Swan. Unfortunately, they have built a nest in the exact same spot where his previous mate was killed, located across the street from the lake at the corner of South Boulevard and Lake Morton Drive. We want to remind those travelling around Lake Morton to pay close attention to the posted 20 mph speed limit and to be vigilant.

There will be posted signage and display boards notifying motorists that it is swan nesting season and to pay attention. Steve Platt, Grounds Maintenance Supervisor for the City’s Parks & Recreation Department said, “Many of the Lake Morton swans move into the South Lake Morton neighborhood to nest. The swans do this to find unused nesting locations with shrubs and other features that they use as cover.” Platt is also known locally as the Swanfather because he and his crew have been caring for Lakeland’s iconic swans for decades. Platt added, “The swans nesting in the neighborhood have to waddle their way to the lake for water and food so this makes them very vulnerable when travelling across the busy roadway. Once a female swan lays its eggs, it is roughly a 40-day time period before the eggs start to hatch. So, it's back and forth to the nest and to the lake for at least 40-days.”

Lakeland’s current swan population has ties to Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Flock. In the early 1950s, a Lakeland resident residing in England wrote a letter to the Queen of England asking her highness if she would be so kind and donate a pair of swans to the City of Lakeland. Queen Elizabeth II replied to the request sending notice that two royal swans from her flock would be donated to the Lakeland community. The birds arrived in Lakeland on February 7, 1957, and were safely placed on Lake Morton. The rest is history.

Lakeland’s Circle B hiking trail still shows Hurricane Irma impact

LAKELAND – The visual effects of Hurricane Irma are mostly gone from Polk County, nearly 3½ years after the storm pummeled the area

But the aftermath of the hurricane can still be seen along one of the county’s most popular hiking trails. The Alligator Alley trail at Circle B Bar Reserve skirts the shore of Lake Hancock, and steep drop-offs along the trail’s edge reflect erosion that began with the hurricane in September 2017 and has continued since then.

Managers of the 1,267-acre property say stabilizing the shoreline and reducing the impact of erosion from lake water is an ongoing challenge.

“We restored it, post-Hurricane Irma damage that occurred, where we lost large portions of the trail,” said Tabitha Biehl, land and water natural areas manager for Polk County. “Our goal is to establish a living shoreline, and so it’s a long-term management, maintenance thing that we’ve committed to continually doing as we try to establish that living shoreline.”

Circle B Bar Reserve is former cattle ranch containing wetlands that have been returned to something resembling their natural state. The property abounds with wildlife, including large populations of wading birds, and it draws visitors from throughout Florida.

The 1-mile Alligator Alley trail runs along the northwest shore of 4,600-acre Lake Hancock at the eastern boundary of the reserve. The trail provides views of the lake for a stretch of about half a mile before bending to the west.

Hurricane Irma tore out many trees and plants along more than 750 feet of the lake’s edge, Biehl said.

“There were large trees, sugarberry trees, which had large root masses that really helped stabilize that shoreline, and during Hurricane Irma those uprooted,” she said. “And so not only did we lose the trees but whole rootballs, which removed huge sections of the trail and exposed the earth and caused massive erosion.”

Part of Alligator Alley remained closed for more than a year after the hurricane as Polk County Parks and Natural Resources oversaw the removal of downed trees and other clearing of the trail. After that, the county department hired a contractor to stabilize the shoreline by dumping loads of dirt to replace eroded sections.

FBI issues cybersecurity outline for water treatment plants

ST. ALBANS, VERMONT — A four-page joint advisory from the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the EPA and Multi-State Center for Internet Security has been circulated among Vermont officials outlining how to avoid cyberattacks.

The document comes two weeks after a cyberattack on a drinking water system that serves 15,000 people outside of Tampa, Florida, was infiltrated. The attackers attempted to increase the amount of lye from 100 parts to 11,000 parts per million.

The document recommends following “Cyber Hygiene” and recommends steps such as keeping software up-to-date, implementing “independent cyber-physical safety systems,” and using randomized alphanumeric passwords, the St. Albans Messenger reported.

Lakeland awarded SWFWMD grant for Crystal Lake water quality improvement study

$100K Grant to Help Improve Water Quality in Crystal Lake

The City of Lakeland has been awarded a grant of $100,000 from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) as part of its annual Cooperative Funding Initiative (CFI) grant program for the Crystal Lake Water Quality Improvement Study. The CFI program provides funding to local governments to cover up to 50% of costs for water quality improvement and flood control projects. The project consists of a feasibility study to evaluate nutrient reduction sediment treatment options to improve water quality in Crystal Lake.

Laurie Smith, Manager of Lakes & Stormwater said, “The funding the City has received for this feasibility study will enable us to scientifically evaluate innovative restoration methodologies and ensure the right solution is selected to improve surface water quality in Crystal Lake. The results of the feasibility study will also be used to evaluate restoration actions in other similar City lakes.”

Crystal Lake does not meet current water quality standards and has a Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) mandated nutrient reduction plan. A previous study showed that sediment cycling contributes to over 90 percent of the lake's phosphorus load. The feasibility study will evaluate options to reduce the phosphorus flux from the sediments to improve water quality.

The Crystal Lake Water Quality Improvement Project includes the installation of limnocorrals (large tubes suspended in the water column) that will be used for mesocosm studies within the lake for the evaluation of nutrient reduction treatment technologies. Surface water and sediment quality will be monitored pre and post-application and analyzed to evaluate the selected treatment technologies' performance and cost-efficiency. The results of the analysis will be used to identify which of the tested treatment technologies will be selected for a full-scale water quality restoration project to address sediment and surface water quality in the lake.

The City of Lakeland will continue to work with SWFWMD for additional funding of sediment and surface water quality restoration activities.