Lake Vegetation Update

Lake Vegetation Update

The annual Lake Vegetation Index (LVI) survey was conducted by Orange County Department of Environment Protection in June of this year. The Lake Vegetation Index is a bioassessment procedure that measures the degree to which a freshwater lake supports a healthy, well-balanced plant community. Please see the sample locations below.

     Below is a graph that shows the past LVI scores for Johns Lake. In the past, the lake was separated into two different lake systems but after 2017 the lake was sampled as one unit. Due to the requirement to randomly select the sample locations and it is hard to tell if the impact of the County’s treatments versus the property owner removal treatments are impacting the overall score. There is a difference in the score for the eastern portion of the lake versus the western portion. This suggests that development along the lake may have an impact on the scores. The overall score for the lake in 2019 was 43. Scores 43 and above are considered good. Our score this year was 42.

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Scrub Point Preserve

Scrub Point Preserve

Guest Author: Biagio Gugliotti (Lake County Water Authority)

     Scrub Point Preserve is owned and managed by the Lake County Water Authority. The Preserve is a 93-acre peninsula that juts into Johns Lake from the southern shore on the Lake County side of the lake. Ecologically, the site has been well preserved and there are at least seven threatened or endangered species and many endemic species (native species that occur in a limited geographic area). There are some exotic plant species, usually around the boundaries and along roads, which staff works to control. The staff has also used prescribed fire to manage some of the dryer habitats on the property. Fire is a very important tool for managing habitat for the rare and endemic species.

     Staff periodically leads field trips on the property. In the past, they have led trips for Festival of Flight and Flowers (formerly the Wings and Wildflowers Festival), and for groups like the Florida Native Plant Society. The Water Authority has also partnered with the Lake County Parks and Trails to lead kayaking trips leaving from the County boat ramp on Highway 50 and paddling across the lake to the Preserve. Staff would then lead a guided hike on the preserve before paddling back to the boat ramp.

     Currently, there is no public access from the land, but access is allowed by boat at the northern point. In recent months more and more boaters are using the preserve. It appears that during the Covid-19 outbreak, more people are socializing on their boats and watercraft since bars and other social venues are closed. Unfortunately, this is having a negative effect on the preserve. The preserve is opened from sunrise to sunset. Alcohol, pets, hunting, trapping, and camping are not allowed on the preserve. All plants, animals, and cultural and historic resources are protected. Some of the issues have been with alcohol and trash on the preserve. The other big issue is the native shoreline vegetation is being destroyed by boats. The original beach area at the point was about 40 feet wide and would accommodate 3-4 boats. As attendance has increased, the opening in the vegetation has become wider and wider.

     Staff installed signs (pictured below) on either side of the opening in an attempt to educate boaters and create a physical limit to the extent of the opening in the vegetation. Within a week of installation, both signs were torn down. Staff was able to relocate the signs in the water and reinstall them. At the time of this writing, one sign has been torn down a second time and the other was twisted around so that the sign was facing the shoreline. The Water Authority is also working with the Lake County Sheriffs Marine Unit to increase patrols of the area.

     The Water Authority wants the public to enjoy the natural beauty of the property, but please be respectful and follow the posted rules.

Johns Lake Outfall Study Update

Johns Lake Outfall Study Update

The Johns Lake Outfall Study is nearing completion. A company was hired by Orange County in January 2020 to evaluate the outfall connecting Johns Lake to Lake Apopka. The main elements of the study were to collect data and identify updates to the stormwater management system and drainage basin hydrology, model the stormwater of Johns Lake Basin and establish flood control Levels of Service, and develop alternatives to improve flood control and the capacity of the outfall channel.

A meeting was held on 9/16/20 with Orange County, the Town of Oakland, Johns Lake Improvement Association, and the hired company to go over the watershed lake management alternatives and options for facilitating the maintenance of the channel. Three options were presented and the advantages and disadvantages of each were discussed to gain feedback and input. Not all of the options provided enough relief in the event of a major flood event with unusually high water. The FEMA 100-year elevation of 99.7 maps shows the potential negative impact of very high water to the area. None of the options provide more than 6” of drawdown improvement over 60 days and no decisions were finalized.

Some of the potential challenges include:

  1. Cost – who bears the responsibility for capital and maintenance costs?
  2. Function – options to fund capital improvements and long term, grant possibilities, other agencies?
  3. Options- what other options are there?

The Town of Oakland expressed concerns about their small footprint relative to the overall size of the drainage basin and how whatever is done will affect so many people and properties. Orange County and the Town of Oakland have a Joint Planning agreement to address this topic, but the details have not been finalized.

Action Items and Next Steps:

  1. The hired company will prepare a summary
  2. Present their findings and recommendations to Johns Lake Advisory Board
  3. Discuss recommendations with St. Johns Water Management District to discuss permit requirements
  4. Complete the Final Report

As soon as the options are firmed up, we will share the plan with you.

Hydrilla Update

Hydrilla Update

Good news! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that they have plans to treat the hydrilla on Johns Lake when the environmental conditions are favorable (lower water level and cooler temperature), hopefully in November. They plan to treat 250 acres along residential shorelines. Please see the highlighted areas outlined in yellow, not the colors in the open water but rather the yellow lines along the shorelines. The challenge might be the water level as we don’t see it coming down much by then and it may actually go up. It is now very close to the normal highwater mark. Anyway, we’ve told them we need this to be done ASAP.

20th Annual Johns Lake Holiday Boat Parade

20th Annual Johns Lake Holiday Boat Parade

This year is the 20th Annual Johns Lake Boat Parade! The event will be held on Sunday, December 13th at 6:15 PM. Come out and decorate your boat with lights and join in the fun! We usually have many spectators in their back yards, as well as at the public boat dock on Lake Boulevard in Winter Garden.

     All boats participating should gather by 6:10 PM in the NW corner of Johns Lake; otherwise known as Clear Lake (see map for exact location). THIS IS A NEW MEETING LOCATION FROM LAST YEAR. The lead boat will start the parade at 6:15 PM by blasting an air-horn several times. All boats should follow in-line and slowly head east. The parade route will follow the northern, eastern, and southern shores of Johns Lake (from Johns Lake Landing in Lake County to Twinwaters in Orange County, where the parade ends). The parade will take about 2 hours to complete. Please see the Parade Route Map.

If this is your first time decorating your boat for a parade, here are a few tips:

  • Christmas lights run on 120v AC and are designed to operate from your home electrical current. To operate lights on your boat, you will need to purchase a DC to AC power inverter. Power inverters are available at most auto parts stores, Wal-Mart, and Harbor Freight. Power inverters convert your boat’s 12v DC power to 120v AC. Inverters do have a limit as to how much power they can generate from your boat’s DC battery. Inverters are rated by watts; the more watts the inverter can handle, the more lights you can put on your boat. Most power inverters above 150 watts will need to be connected directly to your boat’s battery terminals to provide full power as 12v outlet plugs (cigarette lighters) are power limited by a fuse.

  • The use of LED lights provides the ability to power many more lights than incandescent lights. A 300-watt power inverter connected directly to your battery could power over 600 LED lights as opposed to 60 incandescent lights!  Be careful though, as some units will overheat if too much load is placed on them.  Test your lights for a period of time before the parade starts.  Make sure you use UL-approved outdoor lights as the lights on your boat may get wet and you do not want to cause a fire or shock someone on your boat!

  • If you do not live on the lake, you can view the boat parade from the public boat ramp on Johns Lake located at 13620 Lake Blvd., Winter Garden, FL 34787 (north shore of Johns Lake, off of Hwy. 50 at the Lake/Orange County line). The parade should be passing the ramp at approximately 6:45-7:15 PM. If you have any questions about the boat parade, please call Ann at 407-701-8033 for details.