Water-Related News

Companies vie for job of clearing phosphorous from Seminole County's Lake Jesup

While phosphorous isn’t a hazard in drinking water, experts say it’s a deadly danger for aquatic life, and in Seminole County’s Lake Jesup it’s becoming a serious problem.

The lake has been deemed dirtier than Lake Apopka and residents worry that could mean an end to fishing as the chemical pushes oxygen out of the water.

Lake Jesup phosphorous project manager Mike Cullum said companies from as far away as Australia just wrapped up a two-day competition in Maitland aimed at addressing the problem.

Scientists have spent years trying to clean phosphorous out of Lake Apopka, using everything from chemicals to natural filters.

There is money out there for cleanup efforts, but the funds are limited and need to be used in the most effective manner, Cullum said.

“We have public dollars and we need to make sure we spend those dollars wisely,” he said. “It took many, many years to get the lake to where it is now and it’s going to take a few years to get back to a healthy level.”

The state has analyzed the water at Lake Jesup and determined that phosphorous levels need to be cut in half. The companies that attended the recent competition were working on an effective way to do that.

Each body of water is different and you have to “create a prescription that’s specific to the lake,” said Dr. Erich Marzolf with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Determining what the prescription is could take several more months, but technology is key, Marzolf said.

The Water Management District is planning to bring back up to three of the companies that participated in the competition and give them four years to remove the excess phosphorous.