Florida LAKEWATCH Fall Newsletter

Final Thoughts From Outgoing LAKEWATCH Director Mark Hoyer

Left, Mark Hoyer in 1986 a new Midwest Graduate learning the hard way about Florida Lakes. Right, Mark Hoyer in 2023 sharing knowledge gained about Florida Lakes with Dr. Gretchen Lescord.

In 1957 (the year I was born), G. Evelyn Hutchinson published a monograph titled "A Treatise on Limnology", which is regarded as a landmark discussion and classification of all major lake types, their origin, morphometric characteristics, and distribution. Hutchinson presented in his publication a comprehensive analysis of the origin of lakes and proposed what is a widely accepted classification of lakes according to their origin. This classification recognizes 11 major lake types: tectonic lakes, volcanic lakes, glacial lakes, fluvial lakes, solution lakes, landslide lakes, aeolian lakes, shoreline lakes, organic lakes, anthropogenic lakes, and meteorite (extraterrestrial impact) lakes. The one lake type that Dr. Hutchinson forgot to mention is “My Lake,” a term coined by Dr. Daniel E. Canfield Jr., the founding father of Florida LAKEWATCH, and the lake type that started Florida LAKEWATCH.

Most of you know the story that in 1986 citizens from Lake Santa Fe were so interested in being the best possible stewards of “My Lake” (Santa Fe), that they approached Dr. Canfield and asked if he would help them in their quest for lake knowledge. Dr. Canfield instructed the Citizen Scientists on how to sample Lake Santa Fe, bring samples back for analysis and later discussed what the data said about Lake Santa Fe. The Citizen Scientists were so pleased that they wished to continue, they shared the success story with other nearby lakes who followed suite and LAKEWATCH was born. In five short years LAKEWATCH was sampling over 100 lakes, then the Florida Legislature got involved and created the LAKEWATCH program with Florida Statute 1004.49:

The Florida LAKEWATCH Program is hereby created within the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida. The purpose of the program is to provide public education and training with respect to the water quality of Florida’s lakes. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture may, in implementing the LAKEWATCH program:

  • Train, supervise, and coordinate volunteers to collect water quality data from Florida’s lakes.
  • Compile the data collected by volunteers.
  • Disseminate information to the public about the LAKEWATCH program.
  • Provide or loan equipment to volunteers in the program.
  • Perform other functions as may be necessary or beneficial in coordinating the LAKEWATCH program. Data collected and compiled shall be used to establish trends and provide general background information and shall in no instance be used in a regulatory proceeding.

I was fortunate to be at the birth and so far the 37-year life of the LAKEWATCH program. During that time LAKEWATCH has accomplished many things and accumulated one of the longest and most comprehensive data bases in the country if not the world. The advances in lake research, outreach/education (extension) and student education (teaching) during LAKEWATCH’s 37 years is huge, impossible to detail in this short note and acknowledged around the world. Everyone involved should be extremely proud to be a part of such a program.

Left, Dr. Dan Canfield, Dr. Roger Bachmann, and Mark Hoyer. Right, David Watson, Daniel Willis, Mary Lettelier, Christy Horsburgh, and Jason "mo" Bennett.
LAKEWATCH Lab and field staff
LAKEWATCH volunteers at Regional meetings.

Aristotle, (born 384 BC, Stagira, Chalcidice, Greece—died 322 BC, Chalcis, Euboea) is credited with the following quoted “There is no time without change.” That quote rings as true today as it did when it was written by Aristotle. Thus, change is coming to the LAKEWATCH program. After 41 years working for the University of Florida (Go Gators), it is time for my retirement, and I am more than pleased to tell everyone that the program will be in good hands. Dr. Gretchen Lescord (introduced to you in the last LAKEWATCH Newsletter) has already developed a new organizational structure and provided a vision that will not only continue the work LAKEWATCH started but also take the program to new heights. I am excited to see where the program goes in the future!

There are too many LAKEWATCH memories during the last 37 years to remember them all, let alone identify any specific ones to share. However, the one thing that stands out in my mind is the incredible number of dedicated volunteers and staff that have helped make the program what it is today. LAKEWATCH has received many awards and I have been the recipients of many professional awards based on LAKEWATCH’s successes. I have always been aware and quick to point out that any personal achievements were based on the hard work of the many volunteers and staff that keep the program moving forward. There have been well over 50 different staff and thousands of volunteers over the years who have contributed to LAKEWATCH and it would be hard to pick out specific names without listing all of them because they all have to function as a team making LAKEWATCH work.

Left, Dr. Dan Canfield. Right, Christy Horsburgh

However, there are two individuals that were instrumental in the beginning and to the ultimate success of the LAKEWATCH program. Dr. Canfield, the founder of LAKEWATCH, was the visionary and backbone of the new volunteer initiative who tenaciously fought every year to acquire continued funding, staff and equipment making LAKEWATCH the success it is today. Additionally, Christy Horburgh, who was also there at the beginning, should be acknowledged for her field work, data management, laboratory management and overall organizational skills that historically integrated every aspect of the program. I tip my hat to everyone that I have worked with throughout the years but especially Dan and Christy and say “Thank you all, it has been a great ride”!


LAKEWATCH Lakes Doing Big Things!

A big thank you to Florida Lake Management Society for sharing these articles with us!

Jungle Terrace Volunteers Making a Difference

Jungle Lake is a 10 acre lake with 1.5 mile shoreline due to fingers and islands. The lake, whose water makes its way to Boca Ciega Bay, is located in the St. Pete area of Pinellas County. Water lettuce has been a nemesis of the lake for decades. It has totally overgrown the lake 7 times in recent memory. Spraying about every six weeks is an important practice here, each treatment gets 98% of the lettuce which sinks to bottom . . . and leaves 2% as seedlings continuing to grow, leaving Jungle Lake with about 2 feet of muck.

Members of the Jungle Terrace Civic Association take their lake’s care seriously. Their goal is to minimize or eliminate need to spray the invasives. “Volunteers accomplished 4x what I hoped for”, says Dr. Ed Carlson. Community members "weeded" of Water Lettuce the entire length of the ditch, and all the way along both sides of the south water finger past the Swim Pool to the Park Staff shed. They removed adult plants with many attached… to single baby plants. The group also planted 10 test plots and floating wetland islands on May 6. They plan to continue their vigilance with hand-removal until all seedlings are GONE!

Jungle Lake volunteers harvesting water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes, from the lake.

One of Florida Lake Management Society's "Love Your Lake" grant recipients, Lake Cain Restoration Society, has an update on their project and the funds they put to good use!

In five separate events between September 2021 and January 2022, LCRS organized volunteers to plant a total of slightly more than 4,000 plants of species native to Florida. Each event was planned by Board members of LCRS, neighborhood residents and other non-profits under the guidance of a registered horticulturalist. Volunteers included LCRS Board members, neighborhood residents, other non-profits and Lucky’s Lake Swim swimmers. Sites were chosen around three connected lakes: Cane, O’Dell, and Floy.

Volunteers planting native vegetation along the shoreline of Lake Cain

Volunteers planted mainly on the shoreline (vertical and horizontal) in run-off pathways, gutter veins, trenches, and anywhere else they could find a place for deeply-rooted Florida native plants thrive. In addition to the benefits of this planting, the project will require upkeep to maintain. The shoreline needs additional planting in a variety of species, which will fortify recently planted areas, strengthening absorptive ability of these new patches of deep-rooted plants.

LCRS thanks the Florida Lake Management Society for sponsoring their efforts! You can apply for a grant too! The next application deadline is December 1, 2023. Large projects may receive up to $5000! Residents can apply for a reimbursable $200 mini grant for shoreline plantings.

Volunteers: get the most out of your data!

Data collected by LAKEWATCH volunteers and analyzed at the LAKEWATCH laboratory in Gainesville has been shown to be comparable to data collected and processed by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) professionals. These comparison studies allow FDEP to use LAKEWATCH data for regulatory decisions including development of numeric nutrient criteria, assessment of impaired waters, development of Total Maximum Daily Loads, and development of Basin Management Action Plans.

The ability for FDEP to use LAKEWATCH data for regulatory decisions depends on the LAKEWATCH lab processing time of these samples. Your data can only be used to its fullest extent if processed within 5 months of the date collected. Otherwise, the data will be tagged with a “qualifier”. What does having a “qualifier” attached to your data mean? It means that the data may not be used by DEP for regulatory decisions. This will also hold true for other state and local agencies. You should still feel confident enough in the data to use it to make non‐regulatory management decisions.

Because of the large number of samples analyzed by the LAKEWATCH program it is very important that the volunteers keep their samplings flowing to their collection centers in a timely manner. This is especially important for those volunteers in areas where samples are picked up from the collection centers on a quarterly basis.

We want your hard work and dedication to be as valuable as possible to the Florida waterbodies that you love, so make sure to get those samples to the collection center before the next scheduled pickup date. If you need to know the next pickup date for your collection center, you can call the toll free LAKEWATCH number or contact your Regional Coordinator.

-Original article by Mark Hoyer, revised by Marina Schwartz

Who you gonna call?

Make sure you are getting in touch with the right person for you! Regional Coordinators are the support for new and existing volunteers and are usually the first point of contact for the public to ask questions about Florida’s waterbodies. They train and coordinate with volunteers to collect water, help compile the data and disseminate the information back to the volunteers and the general public. There are currently two coordinators Dan Willis and Jason "MO" Bennett and they each serve a specific region of the state. The area and contact information for each Regional Coordinator can be found below. We look forward to assisting you!

Dan: djwillis@ufl.edu or (352) 273-3638, MO: jpb@ufl.edu or (352) 273-3639

Regional coordinator Jason “mo” Bennett met with the Florida Springs Institute’s SpringWatch volunteers to train them to take LAKEWATCH samples along side their SpringsWatch samples. This overlap sampling allows for simultaneous data collection thanks to these volunteers and their efforts.

Broken Bottles

The LAKEWATCH Lab has been receiving nutrient bottles that are in rough shape. These are the smaller bottles that you fill and freeze each time you sample. We reuse these bottles for as long as possible to save money for the program and keep as many lakes in the program as we can. Please follow the tips below to help us keep using these nutrient bottles:

  • Please do not write on the bottles. Make sure to write on the labels only.
  • Don't overfill them. The water expands as it freezes and will crack the bottles.
  • Be careful when handling frozen bottles as they can crack easily.

The LAKEWATCH newsletter is edited by Marina Schwartz. You can reach out with questions, comments, or feedback at marinaschwartz@ufl.edu