Water-Related News

Some lakes in Polk are improving, Polk commissioners told

Water quality has improved in 12 of the 67 lakes in Polk County that have been identified as having pollution problems and they may be removed from the state's list, saving taxpayers millions of dollars, David Carter told the County Commission Tuesday.

Carter, chairman of the county's Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee, told commissioners the improvements have been caused by a combination of the reduction of traditional pollution sources, such as citrus groves, as land is developed and modern stormwater treatment systems are installed and a wet summer, which has allowed lake water to flow into nearby wetlands, which removes additional nutrients.

"It's difficult to tell, these are very complex systems,'' he said.

The lakes with improved water quality are lakes Buckeye, Echo, Elbert, Grassy, Marie, Martha, Menzie, Ned, Pansy and Silver. Lakes Annie and Tennessee may also be removed from the list of lakes that need pollution reductions, county officials say.

Carter said removing those lakes from the list could save Polk County at least $8 million in avoided stormwater project costs.

Carter's committee was appointed last year to oversee the spending of the stormwater tax the County Commission approved in 2014 and is levied at a rate of 10 cents per $1,000 of taxable property.

The tax, which had been under consideration on and off for 25 years, was levied to cover some of the costs of stormwater improvements intended to comply with state and federal water quality standards for lakes and streams.

Carter said the tax raises about $1.5 million a year, which is barely enough to tackle a project in even one lake.