Piney Z Lake

Cat F.

Piney-Z Project
Catherine F.

Piney – Z is located on the east side of Tallahassee just off of Apalachee Parkway. The city of Tallahassee purchased this land and the 407 acres surrounding it in 1995. About a year later in October of 1996, the city, with insight from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), began the restoration of the lake. This had to take place because Lake Piney-Z had sat idle and had accumulated over many years, layers and layers of muck. Only about 25% of the muck was cleared, and this along with the lake-mowed lily-pads, make up the dykes. The dykes are used for fishing along the banks and nice strolls. After this restoration, the drained lake was refilled and various species of fish were put into the lake, such as the large mouth bass, bluegill, and shellcracker. Many people have been working closely with the lake to help bring it up to par. Fishery biologists and Bob the Boat Man, as well as Mr. Fannin’s chemistry classes have been working toward the “new and improved” Piney-Z. Whether it was contributing to the action by physically doing something or researching and analyzing data, these people will leave their mark in Piney-Z history. Piney-Z will be a great recreational site with the nice lake, fishing, canopied trails, and beautiful sites. As said before, in the past, this area just sat idle and there really was no human interaction with Piney-Z, not until recently, anyway.

This view of the lake is calm and serene. A perfect place for a picnic!

This is part of the lake. The tress and water show the beauty of nature.

Karst Topography is distinguished by its irregular shape and physical features of land. It has sink holes, streams that disappear underground, and streamless valleys. These were all developed by the movement of water (on surface and underground) in soluble rock such as limestone. When water and limestone meet, the water dissolves the limestone and makes underground channels and caves, while up above, there develops a rough and bumpy surface. Piney-Z displays karst topography in that it drains into a sinkhole and has many of the characteristics described above. The picture below is a cross section of a karst sinkhole. It shows the limestone and the underground water. The ground above is not even.

Marginal Region

Eutrophication is the process of aging of a lake through the biological enrichment of its water. If naturally occurring, it is a very long process, taking up to thousands of years. When first starting out, a lake is clean and pure. Pristine. Over time, nitrates and phosphates invade and more and more plants are grown, decomposed, and left to rot and become the muck on the bottom of the lake. As this takes place, the lake becomes shallower and warmer until a couple hundred years later when plants start growing in the shallow areas. Before you know it, a thousand years has passed and this once beautiful lake has turned into land. However, lately, this process has been sped up by the hands of man. Because of sewage and agricultural and industrial wastes, many lakes are experiencing this process in fast forward. Piney-Z had been going through eutrophication for many years before the FWC got hold of it and began the restoration (draining, scraping, sectioning) of the lake.

Floridian Aquifer underlies all of Florida, parts of Georgia, and parts of Alabama. It is our source of water. It is made up of several rock formations connected by water flow. The water from the aquifer flows from North Georgia and South Carolina, down to Florida. As it flows downstream, it is forced underground. We (the people) pump our everyday household water from it and have been for a long time now. Lake Piney-Z drains through the sinkhole and into this aquifer, helping to replenish the used water.

Water quality is important to maintaining Piney-Z as an urban fishery. There are many different parameters that are vital for the health of the lake and all the organisms (plants and fish) in them.

  • Temperature is the degrees of heat or cold measured on a definite scale. Generally, most fish are cold blooded, meaning that their body temperature is not internally regulated, but similar to that of the environment surrounding them (in this case, the temperature of the water). All fishes have their own preferred temperature, and if this temperature gets very far above the preferred range, the numbers start to decline. In other words, if the temperature varies too much from the norm, the fishes will start to die. However, if the temperature only increases by 10oC or 18oF within the preferred range, the growth rate will just about double. This is known as the Q10 rule. We measured the temperature with the digital thermometer device which was connected to a TI-83 Plus. We took a sample of the water and put the long metal rod (that was connected to the TI-83 Plus) into the sample, and let the calculator do its thing. Below is a picture of Barry and Mr. Fannin collecting a sample of water to use to get the temperature.
  • Dissolved Oxygen is microscopic bubble of oxygen gas in the water. This is what the fish breath. When the water (with the DO) goes through the fishes’ gills, the oxygen is transferred from the water into their blood. DO levels are also a way to access whether a body of water is desirable to live in or not. Most fishes can not survive at DO levels below 3 milligrams per liter, so it is important to for the DO level to be at a safe 5 milligrams per liter or above. We used a dissolved oxygen kit to determine the milligrams per liter of DO that was in the lake. Both pictures (below) were taken of the dissolved oxygen tests. We always did at least two tests. Repetition is good.
  • pH is a measure of how acidic or how basic a solution is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral, numbers less than 7 being more acidic, and numbers higher than 7 being more basic. pH levels affect how much and what form of nutrients that is available for the fish to use. A change in the pH level may result in an increase or decrease in the amount of nutrients that can be dissolved in the water making it either more or less available for consumption and use. The pH level was measured on the calculator (like the temperature). We took a sample of the water and put the long metal rod (that was connected to the TI-83 Plus) into the sample, and let the calculator do its thing.
  • Nitrates are not normally that abundant in lakes. They usually come from man-made products (run-off from septic tanks), and large amounts can be harmful. As nitrates increase, the growth rate of plants do as well. However, when all these plants start dying and decomposing, the DO levels decrease. As DO levels are the “breath” of fishes, having less would cause them to receive insufficient amounts of air, and cause them to suffocate. This is a plant stimulate and also increases the eutrophication process.
  • Phosphates are the key nutrients influencing plant growth in lakes. Plants are what the fish eat, therefore phosphates are what the fishes eat. However, an increase in phosphates will also eventually cause a decrease in DO levels. This is also a plant stimulate and also increases the eutrophication process.
  • Turbidity is when something is thick, or has a deficiency in clarity or purity. It refers to how clear the water is. The murkier the water, the higher the level of turbidity. The cause of this murkiness lay in little solid particles being suspended in the water. High levels of turbidity may affect the penetration of light, asphyxiate habitats, and even influence the proper way of egg development. Really small particles of matter in the water may damage or clog the gill systems in fishes. Other damages turbidity can cause is included on the chart below. This was found just by looking at the water. It was a visual assessment. The water was pretty clear, indicating a low turbidity level. The picture on the right shows that you can see through the water to the little chopped up lily-pad bits.
    fish trends vs. turbidity

These six components (temperature, DO, pH, turbidity, nitrates, and phosphates) were important parameters as many of them related with each other and were affected by them. In order to maintain Piney-Z as an urban fishery, the fish must live, and by taking caution with these six, Piney-Z will thrive with little fishies.


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