Message from Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle

We’re celebrating Lakes Appreciation Month

July 23, 2020

Aerial photo of St. Johns River flowing into Lake Harney
The St. Johns River flows into Lake Harney (Seminole and Volusia counties).

Florida’s waterways are among our state’s most treasured resources — and the St. Johns River Water Management District works year-round to protect them, part of our core missions of water quality and natural systems.

These water resources include the nearly 1,500 lakes within our 18-county District, a good portion of the more than 4,000 lakes statewide. These beautiful lakes are a daily reminder for District staff of the importance of our work. This month, our Governing Board joined the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) and other groups around the nation in recognizing July as Lakes Appreciation Month. The celebration helps raise awareness of the importance of lakes and the benefits they provide: valuable open spaces, recreation, aquifer recharge, and help reducing the force and impacts of flooding.

The St. Johns River has many large lakes along its length, starting with Blue Cypress Lake at its headwaters and flowing though lakes Washington, Harney, Jesup, Monroe and George along its path to the ocean. Other noteworthy lakes in our District are Lake Apopka (headwaters of the Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes and River), the St. Johns’ largest tributary; and Newnans Lake, the headwaters of the Orange Creek Basin.

District-led lake restoration projects include planting of native vegetation in Lake Apopka and enhancing the District’s wetland restoration area on the lake’s north shore, implementing innovative projects to improve Doctors Lake, Lake Apopka, Lake Minneola and Lake Jesup to name a few, and harvesting gizzard shad from lakes to reduce excess nutrients. Other work includes cost-share funding for projects that help reduce pollutants entering the lakes, setting minimum flows and levels to protect lakes from effects of water withdrawals, providing technical expertise to other entities involved in lake protection and coordinating with partners to plant native aquatic vegetation and manage invasive exotic species. This work is essential to the environment and economy of our state.

Thank you to Dr. Erich Marzolf, director of the District’s Division of Water and Land Resources, and the skilled staff of scientists, land managers and other District staff who study, restore and care for these lakes and their watersheds. We’re grateful for their work in our region and contributions nationwide through Dr. Marzolf’s role as the Region 4 director on the NALMS Board of Directors. (Region 4 covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.) I am proud of our staff’s dedication to the science of Florida’s lakes and look forward to continuing to share this good work with others who appreciate these timeless waterways as much as we do.

See our past stories

Message from Dr. Ann Shortelle: District agriculture cost-share funding promotes water protection, conservation
Opening day at Headwaters Lake Boat Ramp is a smashing success!
Webinars target community association managers on water conservation
Message from Dr. Ann Shortelle: Funding opportunities available for Indian River Lagoon water quality projects