Save Lake Weir Annual Meeting - February 27, 2022
Lake Weir has experienced increasing nitrogen and phosphate levels. It was determined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection study that 17% of the load is coming from 2,081 septic tanks in the Lake Weir watershed. Because of this statistic, Marion County is required by the State to implement a remediation plan and Save Lake Weir Board Members have continued to meet with Marion County to stay informed on the plan. Additional information can be found under the following link:
MARION COUNTY PAGE: https://environmental.marionfl.org/utilities/wastewater-feasibility-study
In addition to staying informed and providing input for the remediation plan, the SLW Association will continue to monitor options available to our community to minimize the adverse impact from septic systems to Lake Weir. This will include but not be limited to;
A.) Obtaining a cost analysis for setting up Municipal Service Taxing Units of lake front property owners for sewers –
Septic to Sewer Conversion Project. The Septic to Sewer initiative information can be found under this LINK.
B.) Reviewing regulations for the installation of enhanced septic systems for all new and remodeled homes in the watershed area; and finally
C.) Asking residents to have their systems inspected and pumped every 3-5 years and not to use phosphate detergents.
Septic Maintenance Grants
The Marion County Office of the County Engineer (OCE) provides a program to award grants to any unincorporated Marion County resident or business that utilizes a septic system to handle onsite treatment and storage of sewage. The purpose of the grant is to assist owners of such systems with routine maintenance pump-out and inspection costs, as well as relief from permit fees.
This program is funded by an annual Run For The Springs 5K. This year the event will be held at the Baseline Trailhead on the Cross Florida Greenway. The run will begin at 7AM on Saturday, April 30, 2022. The more participation in this event, the more residents can be reimburse for their septic maintenance expenses.
Grant Details and Application: Click Here
In September 1999 St. Johns Water Management District was required by the state to set a minimum flow level for Lake Weir which is 54.9 feet above sea level. This time 2019 the water level was 52.44 feet and as of January 2022, the level is 53.62 feet above sea level. Click this LINK to see the January 2022 graph. To find the current water level Google “St Johns Water Management District Hydrological Data,” enter Marion County, Ocklawaha River Basin, current water level, Lake Weir at Weirsdale, Station 04720926.
Lake Weir Minimum Flow Level (MFL)
St. Johns Water Management District is required to reevaluate Lake Weir’s MFL every 20 years. Field work and surface water modeling is scheduled for completion by the end of 2024. The first involves determining a minimum hydrologic regime necessary to protect relevant water resource values. The second involves comparing this analysis of ecological, recreational, and hydrological information, all of which will undergo independent scientific peer review. The minimum hydrologic regime (MFL) determined for Lake Weir will be the basis for water supply pumping permitting in the area. SJRWMD and SWFWMD are working together to gather more data to ensure that they have a robust, defensible MFL moving forward.
A surface water model has been completed, the field work to determine the environmental metrics is being done at Carney Island and the bird rookery at the present. For further information see St. Johns web site, Lake Weir SJWMD Minimum Levels. Scroll down to Lake Weir. If public hearings are held you will be notified by Email.
Save Lake Weir Board Members have met with Rachel Novak – Water Resources Liaison, Office of the County Engineer, Marion County. Rachel provided information on various information and programs as follows:
- Rain sensors are available to Marion County residents at no cost. Residents can request one by contacting Rachel via email [email protected] or at her direct line 352-671-8672. After a request has been made, rain sensors can be picked up at the Office of the County Engineer located on 412 SE 25th Ave. Ocala, Fl 34471.
- Free irrigation audits can be scheduled through Rachel’s office. These audits ensure over irrigation does not cause runoff to enter Lake Weir.
- Free rain barrel workshops will be offered at the Head Quarters Ocala Public Library located at 2720 E Silver Springs Blvd, Ocala, FL 34470 on the dates listed below. Interested participants MUST REGISTER prior to event day.
Friday, February 25, 2022
Saturday, April 16, 2022
Friday, June 17th, 2022
- Toilet Rebate Program – Marion County residents who own a single-family dwelling built before 1995 and businesses that are planning on replacing their existing high-flow toilets [3.5 gallons per flush (gpf) or greater] with a high efficiency toilet using 1.28 gpf or less or a WaterSense® labeled toilet can receive a rebate. Additional information and the application can be found HERE.
- Landscape and Irrigation Retrofit Grant Program Guidelines – Marion County’s Efficient Irrigation Rebate Program encourages eligible homeowners to improve their existing landscape and irrigation system and maximize outdoor water use efficiency. Typical landscapes use more water than necessary due to inefficient plant and irrigation system design and installation.
- Landscape and Irrigation Program Guidelines
- Landscape and Irrigation Retrofit Rebate Terms and Conditions
- Landscape and Irrigation Retrofit Rebate Application
Rachel’s office is currently working with the Public Relations department to create a Water Resources webpage. Once this site goes live, we will post a link here.
Periodically check in with Florida Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (FWC) to provide them the names of contractors that are clearing beaches. FWC has to catch illegal beach cleaners in the act to fine them. A warning is usually issued first, although FWC is issuing more citations for illegally clearing beaches.
The committee conducted a survey of the number of beaches that do not meet the Florida Statute which states fifty feet can be cleared if your shoreline is 100 feet or more and 50% if less than 100 feet. Please inform beach clearing contractors.
76% of the beaches on Big Lake Weir do Not meet statute guidelines, many completely cleared.
58% of the beaches on Sunset Harbor and Bird Island do Not meet guidelines.
47% of the beaches on Little Lake Weir do Not meet the guidelines.
Over 150 beaches on our lake do not meet state littoral guidelines. Why is this important? The Littoral zone influences the movement and processing of materials flowing into the lake from runoff, thus affecting the physical and biological processes in the lake’s ecosystem.
Click here for the latest Marion County Florida Friendly Fertilizer Ordinance presentation.
As updated by The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences(UF/IFAS ) and horticultural agents of Marion and Alachua county, if fertilizer is used, it must NOT contain phosphate, and ideally is in slow release form. This type of fertilizer can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot.
Please use these guidelines to reduce the degradation of our lake.
- Do not use fertilizer or pesticides on the lakeside of your property. Lake Weir is in an Environmentally Sensitive overlay Zone in which regulations say do not fertilize within 75 feet of the lake.
- If you water from the lake, the water provides the nutrients your lawn requires.
- If you use fertilizers on the street side of your property use those with no phosphorus.
- Never use fertilizers or pesticides right before rain showers.
The FDEP Study determined that the Nitrogen Load to Lake Weir from surface runoff was 16%.
Adding a berm to your property will slow surface runoff. Please follow Florida Green Industries Best Management Practices for Protection of Water Resources, a state law enacted in 2002 as amended to protect our lakes.
The full Marion County Florida Friendly Fertilizer Ordinance can be found HERE.
Commissioner Jeff Gold has placed the Bird Island culvert expansion on the 5-year county plan as his sponsored project. This will increase water flow through the causeway and result in clearer water on the westside of Bird Island.
Lack of water flow stymies movement that is grossly affecting invasive vegetation. The abundance of vegetation creates muck that is not healthy for the lake.
The Save Lake Weir Board is planning a trip to one or more lakes in Florida that are currently restoring waterfronts, removing muck blocking surface runoff and other projects. This will take the unity of local citizens, public agencies, and private organizations to help restore our precious resource. Other lakes have received grants and support to accomplish this and we believe we can do this also.
Meeting with the St. Johns Water Management District to get direct access to their data output on nitrates, phosphates, and chlorophyll levels. This will allow graphs on the website to be updated, which keeps our members informed. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed this effort down, but we are still moving forward.
What You Can Do To Help
You can help Protect, Preserve, and Restore Lake Weir by making some simple changes:
1) Don’t Litter.
Wrappers, cans, and bottles pollute the lake, become hazards for boaters, and depreciate the aesthetic of the lake.
2) Be a Responsible Boater.
Restrict high speed boating to deeper waters and be mindful that the oil, gasoline, and trash that you allow into the water damages the lake.
3) Clean Up After Your Pets
Pet droppings harm the lake, so please be sure to properly dispose of your pet’s droppings. Don’t bathe your pet in the lake, as detergents harm the lake.
4) Keep Septic Tanks and Drains Buffered from the Lake
Keep them away from the water’s edge and be sure they are in proper working order. Washing machine and sink grey water should be filtered through a septic system before reaching the lake.
5) Wash Your Car on The Grass
Run-off from washing your car in the driveway or the street makes its way into the lake and damages it.
6) No Phosphates
Use detergents that do not contain phosphates. Excessive phosphates act as a nutrient, causing too much algae growth in the lake. Algae steals the oxygen, killing the fish and plant life of the lake.
7) Fertilize and Spray Carefully
Toxins and the high load of nutrients found in fertilizers are damaging to the lake. Avoid getting these chemicals in your driveway or on the street, as they add to the storm run-off and end up in the lake.
8) Be careful with Grass and Leaves
Don’t blow or wash yard waste into the street where it could enter the lake, instead bag them or start a mulch pile. Mulch is beneficial to your yard but hurts the lake.
9) Leave the Shoreline Undisturbed
Don’t remove shoreline or shallow vegetation. This important plant life traps and filters any contaminants or harmful nutrients from entering the lake. This plant life is the last line of defense for the lake.
10) Report Violators
Report offenders by calling (386) 208-6146
11.) Join the Save Lake Weir Association