May 16, 2002
Piney Z Project: Narrative
Natural and Cultural History of Lake Piney Z
The land on which Lake Piney Z sits was originally a prarie. The
lake itself was created for the pleasure of a private owner in
the 1950s to serve as a hunting and fishing outlet. Little planning
and consideration for the future took place during the making
of this lake probably because the owner was not totally aware
of the effects such a change to the environment would create.
The area was blocked off and converted into the lake it is today.
Introducing fresh water to the lake created a bustling fish population
for years, but eventually the number of these dwindled because
the fish could not reproduce as a result of low levels of oxygen
in the water due to "problems with dense stands of aquatic
plants, poor water quality and a layer of muck on the bottom [due
to eutrophication] that was up to four feet deep in places."
A buildup of dead aquatic plants at the bottom of the lake hindered
the reproduction of fish introduced into the man-made environment.
Fifty years ago, the Piney Z area was uninhabited and nothing
but a woody plantation on the map of Leon County. Today, it is
the busy, bustling site of a rapidly-growing community. More and
more houses are being built on the 407 acres of land surrounding
the lake. Man's encroachment on the land has created a concern
for the lake's health. The city of Tallahassee commissioned the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to evaluate
the lake's condition soon after it bought it and the surrounding
land. A conclusion was reached to "completely drain the lake,
dry out the lake bottom as much as possible during an extended
drawdown, and re-stock the lake with game fish," due to the
lake's poor condition.
Depending on the lake, eutrophication, the "aging of a lake
by biological enrichment of is waters," can occur over a
span as long as thousands of year by two ways: natural eutrophication
and cultural (or man-caused) eutrophication. When
eutrophication occurs, the growth of aquatic organisms and the
lake's fertility increases. This natural process of eutrophication
usually positively affects the lake, its living inhabitants, and
the surrounding area. But when eutrophication creates an overstimulation
of algae growth, as a result of sewage and agricultural and industrial
waste that act as surface plant fertilizer, problems arise. The
affected lake may begin to emit unpleasant smells and harbor unsightly
scum; it may also be deprived of dissolved oxygen, vital to aquatic
organisms, and contain pollutants that poison fish. Piney Z lake
had witnessed similar effects as a result of a buildup of muck
on the lake's bottom. As surface plants and algae died away and
decomposed at the bottom, they began to pile up. The aquatic organisms
and plants' dissolved oxygen levels were depleted and it was harder
for the aquatic creatures to survive.
As we have discovered through our research, events have taken
place to improve the lake's condition and it is expected to be
open to the public very soon under the name, Piney Z Fish Management
Area. The lake was drained and 25% of its bottom scraped of the
black muck that strangled it. In the future, it can be expected
that despite the fact that an increase in those inhabiting the
area will occur, an increase in the concern for the lake will
also take place. The area will most likely become less woody and
"Karst topography is an amalgamation of caves, underground
channels, and a rough and bumpy ground surface." It is created
by the interaction of limestone with underground water; the water
dissolves the soluble limestone to carve out underground channels
and caves that are susceptible to collapse. A sinkhole may be
created as a result of the collapsing of such structures from
the surface. An example of a sinkhole in Tallahassee is Falls
"The Floridan aquifer is one of the most productive aquifers
in the world." It spans about 100,000 miles underground through
Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and all of Florida. It provides
water for several large cities and numerous smaller communities
and is intensely pumped for agricultural and industrial purposes.
The Floridan aquifer is widespread and thick with rocks varying
in permeability. It is because of this aquifer that Karst topography
exists in Florida.
2) Water Quality
The water quality at Piney Z lake must be within acceptable parameters
for the maintaining of it as an urban fishery. Such parameters
that should be considered are temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH,
turbidity, phosphates, and nitrates. All play a vital role in
the survival of the lake and its inhabitants.
Temperature is important because freshwater fish can only tolerate
certain fluctuations. Disrupting natural temperature fluctuations
would disrupt aquatic ecosystems. Though good temperatures are
dependent on the lake itself, most fish can tolerate between 68
and 89 degrees farenheit. Higher temperature reduces the amount
of dissolved oxygen in the water. Temperature regulation must
be maintained in order for fish to survive as well as reproduce.
Ideal temperatures must be kept to insure the future of the lake's
Dissolved oxygen measures the amount of gaseous oxygen dissolved
in an aqueous solution. It is what fish breathe and "gets
into water by diffusion from the surrounding air, aeration, and
as a waste product of photosynthesis." An adequate supply
of dissolved oxygen is needed for good water quality. It should
not exceed 110% as it could cause "gas bubble disease,"
but not too low as to put stress on the fish which could lead
pH is measure of the acidic or basic nature of a solution. It
is important to water quality because a pH range of between 6.0
and 9.0 offers the most protection for freshwater fish and other
aquatic organisms. pH is also important because it determines
the toxic effects of aluminum, iron, ammonia, mercury, and other
elements from agricultural, industrial, and domestic runoff.
Turbidity is the clearness of the water; it measures the amount
of total suspended solids in the water. This is vital to water
quality because the murkier (the higher the turbidity) the water
is, the less able the sun is to penetrate through it, thus lessening
the ability of plants to perform photosynthesis. Higher levels
of turbidity can also clog or damage sensitive gill structure,
decrease resistance to disease, hinder feeding activities and
proper egg and larvae development.
Phosphates are important because they are necessary for the growth
of plants and animals. They stimulate the growth of aquatic plants
and plankton that fish feed on. Its effects can increase fish
populations and improve the overall water quality. Phosphate levels
should be monitored as too high levels can cause eutrophication.
Last, but not least, nitrates act as nutrients in the water. They
are important because they limit supplies of oxygen in the water.
Bacteria in the water quickly convert nitrates.