Can Hyacinths Save Lake Apopka?

Dublin Core


Can Hyacinths Save Lake Apopka?

Alternative Title

Can Hyacinths Save Lake Apopka?


Water quality--Florida
Lake Apopka (Fla.)
Environmental protection--Florida


A newspaper article published in The Little Sentinel discussing environmental restoration research by University of Florida (UF) research stations in Central Florida. The research programs examine the utilization of aquatic plants like water hyacinth and pennywort in drainage ditches and ponds to absorb excess nutrients from polluted water. The plants are then harvested and processed into different forms of biofuel, animal feed, and fertilizer. The studies are being developed with the eventual goal of restoring Lake Apopka.

The Florida Agricultural Experiment Station (FAES) system was formed in 1887, headquartered in Lake City, Florida. The FAES was relocated to Gainesville after the University of Florida (UF) began operations there in 1906. FAES stations were constructed throughout the state beginning with a citrus research facility in Lake Alfred in 1917. By 1925, a celery research facility was established in Sanford and was the forerunner of the Sanford Agricultural Research and Education Center. In 1986, the Sanford AREC was combined with research stations at Apopka and Leesburg to form the Mid-Florida Research Center, located in Apopka.

Lake Apopka is one of Florida’s largest lakes and was once considered to be one of the world’s best lakes for bass fishing. The lake’s sport fish population began to decline in the 1960s, with major die-offs occurring almost yearly. The lake’s problems are generally considered to be the result of over-nutrification from various sources. Twenty thousand acres of wetlands bordering the lake’s north shore were drained in the 1940s and used for highly fertile “muck farms.” These farms were routinely flooded to protect the fragile soil, and the fertilizer and pesticide-laden water was then discharged back into the lake prior to each growing season. Other sources of pollution include discharge from citrus processing operations, as well as treated wastewater from sewage plants. The nutrient-rich discharge promoted algae growth in the lake, turning the water to a green color, and blocked sunlight from reaching aquatic vegetation, which provided food and habit to the lake’s fish population. The lake’s bottom soil became increasingly “mucky,” also disrupting aquatic vegetation from taking root.

Restoration work on the lake began in the 1960s with attempts by various agencies to remove “trash fish,” such as gizzard shad, from the lake via seining, which would hopefully allow the lake’s sportfish to thrive. The Lake Apopka Restoration Council, an initiative formed under Governor Claude Kirk (1926-2011) in 1967, launched several studies to find methods to improve the lake, though no serious action was taken. Various methods were debated to restore the lake through the 1970s and 1980s, including “drawdown,” which entailed completely draining the lake to allow the mucky bottom to consolidate. Restoration attempts were stalled for lack of funding and research.

The Lake Apopka Restoration Council was reformed in 1985 under Governor Bob Graham (b. 1936), and, in 1987, the Surface Water and Improvement Management Act was passed. Together, these actions allowed comprehensive restoration plans to take shape, such as the Marsh Flow-way, a project by the St John’s Water Management District that uses natural methods to remove nutrients from the lake. The Friends of Lake Apopka, a citizen environmental advocacy group, began to push for further restoration efforts in the 1990s. The lake’s north shore muck farms were eventually purchased by the State of Florida, helping to reduce the amount of nutrient entering the lake.


Bennett, Elaine


Photocopy of original newspaper article: Bennett, Elaine. "Can Hyacinths Save Lake Apopka?" The Little Sentinel, May 3, 1981, page 2: binder 1981, Friends of Lake Apopka Archives, Ginn Museum, Oakland Nature Preserve, Oakland, Florida.

Date Created

ca. 1981-05-03

Date Copyrighted


Date Issued


Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of photocopied newspaper article: Bennett, Elaine. "Can Hyacinths Save Lake Apopka?" The Little Sentinel, May 3, 1981, page 2.

Is Part Of

Binder 1981, Friends of Lake Apopka Archives, Ginn Museum, Oakland Nature Preserve, Oakland, Florida.
Friends of Lake Apopka Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.




324 KB


1 newspaper article






Lake Apopka, Florida
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher
Science Teacher


Originally created by Elaine Bennett and published by The Little Sentinel.

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by The Orlando Sentinel and is provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.

Contributing Project


King, Joshua

Digital Collection

Source Repository

External Reference

"History of Lake Apopka." St John's River Water Management District. January 28, 2013. Accessed June 5, 2016.
"About IFAS." Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. March 30, 2016. Accessed June 21, 2016.
"Apopka Spring." Lake County Water Atlas. Accessed June 08, 2016.
Campbell, Ramsey. "Source of Surprise: Crystal Clear Water from Lake Apopka." The Sentinel Star, April 23, 1995. Accessed June 8, 2016.
"Letter from Arthur W. Sinclair to C. W. Sheffield (December 22, 1967)." RICHES of Central Florida.