Lake Istokpoga Management Committee

By Bill Dwinell

The Lake Istokpoga Management Committee (LIMC) is appointed by the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners. This purpose of this committee is to review anything that might affect Lake Istokpoga and when appropriate make recommendations to the Highlands County Commissioners.

There were two meetings of the Lake Istokpoga Management Committee this summer. The first one was June 12. There was an insufficient number of committee members present to hold a formal meeting, hence the second meeting held on July 17th. where there was a quorum and successful meeting. Since there were so many important topics that were discussed, I will cover them both for you so you can see the kind of issues that are facing Lake Istokpoga on a daily basis.

June 12:

Discussed the hydrilla situation, including why it wasn’t dying in the southeast part of the lake - no answers were presented.

Karen Whall, FFWCC, discussed the water temperatures and dissolved oxygen levels she is seeing in the lake.

SFWMD briefly discussed the basin wide phosphorus study conducted by Paul Ritter of SFWMD and stated they will not be doing another study.

The Avon Park Correctional Institute (ACPI) is still discharging wastewater (including phosphorus) into Arbuckle Creek. Their plans to change this were discussed.

LakeWatch has received funding for one more year. We still need to be concerned, but they will be staffed for at least one more year.

The Economic Impact study proposed by FFWCC appears to have been funded. (see article later in this newsletter)

Dr. Jennifer Brunty gave us an update on the water quality in Lake Istokpoga. Water clarity is still low, phosphorus is still relatively high coming into the lake from Arbuckle Creek..

Beacham Furse gave an update on the FFWCC revegetation project. They planted 25,000 bulrush stems and 20,000 stems of knotgrass and maidencane. The Boy Scout Troop #403 from St. Lucie and Indian River Counties helped with the planting of 2500 of the plants.

There was a discussion about Lake Istokpoga being added to the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project. This is a significant step in getting more attention paid to the Lake Istokpoga watershed.

July 17:

After the customary approval of the minutes and covering of open work items and review of the June 12 meeting notes we reviewed the in-lake water quality monitoring.

Carl Smith, Highlands County Aquatic Weed Control Supervisor gave us an overview of the current status of the hydrilla treatment. Additional Sonar was applied in three locations from the Eagles Nest area to the mouth of the C41A canal (S-68 structure). Carl stated that as of yesterday the hydrilla had started to die. There are two additional areas of hydrilla growth that need to be treated, one on the east side of Big island and one between Big Island and Bumblebee Island. Carl stated that he had funding for an additional 200 acres for clearing trails, that could be used to treat this area if he cannot get additional funding from DEP for these areas.

SFWMD confirmed that Lake Istokpoga has been officially added to the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project (LOWP) and that the team was working hard to get the data for this part of the watershed added to the overall project. Official discussions at the Project Coordination Team meetings would start when the initial data gathering had been completed. This is a result of folding the Lake Istokpoga Regulation Schedule meetings into the overall LOWP.

Greg White, SFWMD, reported that the Phosphorus Budget and Sediment Report on the Istokpoga watershed is due back soon.

The APCI issue was still open (see above). County Commissioner Edgar Stokes reported that the search for an alternate location for the disposal of the effluents was being looked into and the outlook was good for a land swap.

A brief summary of the DEP Wabasso Road Dairy hearing was given. It appears that DEP will issue a modification to their permit which will allow them to increase their herd size from 1152 to 2000. Our concern is only with the potential increase in phosphorus in the watershed.

The last item of discussion was the USACE plans for Istokpoga Canal. This will be covered in a separate article in this newsletter.

I hope this will help you understand some of the complex issues facing our beautiful lake. If you want to learn more about these issues and other issues, events and happenings, Give me a call, the directors and I can use the help. Please note that the LIMC meetings are open to the public and are noticed the same as all county meetings.