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Meeting Notes: April 10, 2023 

There were three presenters at the April 10 W.A.R. meeting, and their talks are summarized below for those who could not attend. Turn-out for the meeting was excellent, and included several Inglis town council members, the current and former Inglis mayors, and a representative from State Congressman Gus Bilirakis’s office. At the conclusion of the presentations there were many questions, mostly focused on opposition to the spraying of herbicides on Lake Rousseau. WAR also opposes herbicide spraying, but being too small to defend our river on multiple fronts, our current effort is focused on restoring flow to the lower river.

 

Christina Dodge, Biological Scientist, Fish and Wildlife Commission

Lake Rousseau’s invasive aquatic plants (hydrilla, water hyacinth, and water lettuce) are managed with herbicides. Application of herbicide for hydrilla is under water, and effectiveness is determined by flow in the lake. (High flow washes the herbicide downstream too fast.) Herbicides for water hyacinths and water lettuce are sprayed from the surface. There are few options open for aquatic plant management on this lake, because of stumps in the lake, fishing camps, and private ownership of lake front property. The state’s annual budget for herbicides is about $10,000,000 dollars, allocation to specific bodies of water is controlled by the state legislature. All herbicides are EPA approved, and concerns about toxicity therefore need to be addressed with the EPA, not with Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Details on cost of application at Lake Rousseau and elsewhere can be found at MyFWC.com, at What’s Happening on my Lake.  

Patrick Casey, Structure Operations Controls Analyst, Southwest Florida Water Management District

The priority for water flow from Lake Rousseau is on providing maximum flow to the lower river through the Inglis Bypass Spillway. The exception is when water levels from Lake Rousseau need to be lowered to prevent flooding downriver, such as during severe storms. The Bypass Spillway is limited to discharging 1400 cubic feet per second. It’s clear that any further increase in flow to the lower river will require structural modification to the dam and the Bypass Spillway, which SWFWMD is not funded to provide. (WAR is pursuing funds to make this happen, working with Levy County and state legislators.)

 

Mickey Thomason, Manager, FDEP Division of Parks

SWFWMD doesn’t have many options for controlling herbicides on Lake Rousseau. Mechanical harvesting would be many times more expensive than herbicides, because of the tree stumps in the lake. Drawdowns would be helpful, but the best time to take action against invasive aquatic plants through draw-downs turns out to be in the winter, when oxygen levels in the water are higher, and when exposed plants will be potentially impacted by frost. Other differences between Lake Rousseau and Rodman Lake, where draw-downs are successfully used, is that property around Lake Rousseau is privately owned and there are four RV parks / fish camps on Lake Rousseau that would be impacted economically as fall/winter is their peak season.

Notes taken by Ursula Schwuttke

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