Lake County Water Resource Education Initiative

This purpose of this project is to provide the students of Alee Academy with hands-on experience in water quality assessment and data reporting. The quality of a water body is often measured by the chemical, physical and biological components that make up the system. The chemical/physical component of water quality often addresses levels of available nutrients as well as temperature, pH, salinity and water clarity while the biological component often describes species composition and diversity. Changes in water quality can occur according to seasonal cycles and may vary greatly between different water bodies due to differences in geology, source water type and human impact.

The members of the Lake County Water Authority have provided this initiative in order to investigate seasonal differences in the water quality of 5 area lakes. Students will periodically sample chemical/physical parameters and conduct a biota assessment of these lakes under direct supervision of Alee faculty member Ivan Mish with periodic accompaniment by Lance Riley of the University of Florida Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Dept. The results of these assessments will be entered into a spreadsheet by the students and posted on the Alee Academy website for public access.

Water quality assessment for each lake will be divided into two parts, Chemical/Physical Assessment and a Biological Inventory.

Chemical/Physical Assessment

The Chemical/Physical Assessment will include the following parameters:

Parameter Instrument Used for Measurement
GPS Location Garmin Hand-held GPS
Temperature YSI 550 DO Meter
Dissolved Oxygen YSI 550 DO Meter
Water Clarity Sechi Disk
pH LaMotte pH Meter
Salinity Oakton SaltTester Meter
Phosphate LaMotte Test Kit
Nitrate LaMotte Test Kit
Nitrite LaMotte Test Kit
Ammonia LaMotte Test Kit

Results from these analysis will be compared to minimum/maximum values as determined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) criteria for surface water quality classifications. This criteria divides surface waters into the following 4 classes:

  • Class I: Potable Water
  • Class II: Shellfish Propagation or Harvesting
  • Class III: Recreation, Propogation and Maintenance of Healthy Fish and Wildlife
  • Class IV: Agricultural Water Supplies
  • Class V: Navigation, Utility and Industrial Use

Each lake will be designated with a classification according to the values prescribed by FDEP. Values for all lakes should fall between Class I and Class III and any lake rated below a Class III will require further investigation. The following parameter values limits will be applied for rating a Class III or above water body:

Parameter Units Limit
Dissolved Oxygen mg/L Not less than 5.0
Water Clarity Meters Not Specified
pH pH Units 6 - 8.5
Salinity ppt Not Specified
Phosphate Micrograms/L of P <0.1
Nitrate mg/L as N <10
Nitrite mg/L as N Not Specified
Ammonia (un-ionized) mg/L as NH3 <4,300

Biological Inventory

The Biological Inventory of each lake will focus on plants and animals along the shoreline and sediment. Particular attention will be given to benthic animals using hand excavation and dredge sampling. Plants and animals will be identified using field manuals and unknown specimens will be preserved for identification by University of Florida faculty. All unionid mussel shells will be taken to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Biological Research Facility for identification and cataloging by Dr Jim Williams for an upcoming publication on the distribution of mussels in Florida waters. The species inventory for each lake will also be placed on the web for public access.