State lawmakers and Alachua Co. commissioners seek funding for Newnans Lake clean up efforts

ALACHUA CO., Fla., (WCJB) --- State lawmakers and Alachua County commissioners are coming together to address the conditions of Newnans Lake.

Newnans Lake is a popular lake in Florida but there's some concern with the lake's water quality.

"So when you look at Newnans Lake you might not understand the condition its in. The problem is what's on the bottom of the lake, there's just years and years of accumulation of muck that's really polluted and that's the part that we got to clean up," said Chris Bird, Environmental Protection director for Alachua County.

The massive amounts of muck didn't get there overnight.

"The way it got in there is what we believe is the drainage that was required to do a lot of development in Gainesville and particularly the Gainesville airport, cut in to a phosphate layer of kind of natural soil that has a lot of phosphorus in it and over the years and over the decades its drained into the lake and it really acts like fertilizer and what its doing is fueling the growth of algae and what that does is make the lake not good for fish not good for wildlife," said Bird.

While the county has already committed $145,000 or a wetland treatment plan.

Now with the support of state legislators they're hoping to get 10 million dollars from the state.

" What it would be doing is removing the nutrients, the plants in that wetland will take up the nutrients outside of the lake and whenever you have a lake like this you have a choice of what I call macrophytes big plants that grow up from the bottom of algae, this lake is full of algae because of the nutrients," said Robert Hutchinson, Alachua County commissioner.

Senator Keith Perry says it's not just for Newnans Lake its also a test for all the lakes in the state of Florida that are impaired.

"It's so important almost every lake in the state of Florida is impaired in some degree Newnans is really impaired and so we got to do something we got to get ahead of the game it's only getting worse in these lakes," said Florida Senator Keith Perry, District #8.

"We know it probably took 75 or 80 years for the lake to get as bad as it is and it's not going to be cleaned up overnight. We recognized that this is probably going to take decades to do," said Bird.

The state has given the county two grants totaling $800,000, that money went towards the preliminary work. The requested 10 million dollars they're asking for now will be for the final stage of the project to rid Newnans Lake of decades of pollution.