Restoration leaves lake in pristine condition
After four months of dredging, the overgrown tussocks that choked the 20-acre body of water are gone, leaving the water cleaner that it has been in decades…
Lake Helen — The successful restoration of Lake Macy is winning praise from residents and environmental officials.
After four months of dredging, the overgrown tussocks that choked the 20-acre body of water are gone, leaving the water cleaner that it has been in decades.
“I’m just tickled to death,” said Lake Helen resident Bill Mee, who along with neighbor Bill Dill spearheaded the effort to restore the lake. “My mother recently visited at the lake and told me it looks better than it did the year she and Dad first down here in 1955.”
After Mee and Dill lobbied to get the work started, a coalition of officials from Lake Helen, Volusia County Public Works and state environmental offices joined efforts to help restore the lake, once a favorite spot for swimming and fishing. The project was funded by a $200,000 Department of Environmental Protection grant and was overseen by Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission biologist Lothian Ager.
Biologists say plants in the lake grew out of control when water flowing from nearby creeks was restricted by development, allowing nutrients to accumulate in the water to long.
The lake’s health is important because Lake Macy is the headwaters for a 1,650 acre watershed in southwestern Volusia County.
Rather than a lake drawdown like those typically used in restoration projects, the Missouri company that cleared the lake, Dredge America, used an innovative method of hydraulic dredging. Environmental officials say they are happy with the results.
“This is much better than the old-fashioned method and works very well when the problem with the lake is vegetation,” said St. Johns River Water Management District engineer Deirdre Irwin. “It looks pretty amazing.”
They did not have to pump out the water and our main concern was to prevent flooding downstream or disturbing the water quality,” she said.
Farley Palmer, biological field consultant with Water Shed Laboratories in DeLand added: “They maintained the lake’s ecosystem while removing the vegetation, which is difficult to do. We never saw fish kills of any other negative impact.”
Work at Lake Macy isn’t quite finished. Lake Helen City Clerk Ray Leibensperger said the city is trying to acquire property on the lake and to restore connecting stream beds to maintain the lake’s health. The city is seeking funding and donations for the projects.
Also, the lake will need regular herbicide spraying to stem the growth of water hyacinths and hydrilla, which could overcome the lake again, Leibensperger said.