Fertilizers and Runoff

The number two cause of high nitrates (16%) in Lake Weir according to the same study completed in 2017 (Nutrient TMDL for Lake Weir found on the Metrics Page) is from runoff that contain fertilizers and farm waste.  Marion County has established a defined set of best practices guidelines and ordinances to fertilize safely within our watershed area.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Beach Clearing

The shoreline edge can significantly impact Lake Weir’s overall health.  This area serves as habitat for plants and animals and helps to filter pollutants in storm water runoff before it reaches open water.   Vegetation along the shoreline also serves to protect against erosion. 

There are clearly identified beach clearing guidelines as follows:

  • Limit removal of aquatic vegetation along the shoreline
  • Incorporate a swale that can catch runoff and provide treatment of the storm water
  • Maintain at least a 10 foot low-maintenance zone between your yard and beach. In this area, use plants that are Florida Friendly, which reduces the need for fertilizer 2022 Florida Friendly Landscaping Presentation –  Amanda Marek
  • Property owners must obtain a county permit before clearing any vegetation along more than half of the shoreline bordering their property or more than 50 feet — whichever is less – see 369.20 Florida Aquatic Weed Control Act.

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.

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.

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.

If you see excess vegetation being removed, please call Chris Haggerty at of Florida Wildlife at (352) 726-8622 with an approximate location.

Here’s the statute for removing aquatic plants:
*As an exemption to all permitting requirements in this section and ss. 369.22 and 369.25, in all freshwater bodies, except aquatic preserves designated under chapter 258 and Outstanding Florida Waters designated under chapter 403, a riparian owner may physically or mechanically remove herbaceous aquatic plants and semiwoody herbaceous plants, such as shrub species and willow, within an area delimited by up to 50 percent of the property owner’s frontage or 50 feet, whichever is less, and by a sufficient length waterward from, and perpendicular to, the riparian owner’s shoreline to create a corridor to allow access for a boat or swimmer to reach open water. All unvegetated areas shall be cumulatively considered when determining the width of the exempt corridor. Physical or mechanical removal does not include the use of any chemicals or any activity that requires a permit pursuant to part IV of chapter 373

The details of the Florida Aquatic Weed Control Aft can be found by clicking here.