Communities find common ground
The problem in a nutshell:
- According to longtime residents, the lake and canals used to be clear – you could see all the way to the bottom.
- There used to be lily pads in the lake, which nurtured fish.
- A pump used to circulate water from an aquifer through the canals and into the lake.
- Now there are no lily pads, the lake is low, dark and full of decomposing plantlife on its sandy bottom, fish are not plentiful, and the canals are stagnant and breed mosquitoes.
- Less rainfall has lowered the level of the lake.
- The pump that fed the lake from an aquifer has not operated in several years.
- There’s runoff from parking lots and schools – some of this might never have been monitored or approved by SWIFTMUD (are schools exempt?)
- The canals no longer move, so have become choked with vegetation in dry months, and duckweed in the rainy season.
A pump was installed recently by the county that would move water through the canals by taking water at a low rate from the lake, circulating it, and returning it to the Lake.
At Friday's meeting, folks from Bent Tree, Lake Sarasota, the Sarasota Sky Pilots Disc Golf club, and Sarasota County had a constructive discussion. There was consensus that moving the water in the canals would reduce vegetation and mosquitoes and could lead to clearer water. However, it was acknowledged that the lake is already low, and it would be detrimental to see it go down even further. The conversation led to the following action items:
Further discussion may explore a plan that could re-elevate the level of Lake Sarasota. More on this to come - stay tuned.