Piney Z Lake

Megan B.

Piney Z Narrative

Every now and then a lake suffers from the overcrowding of aquatic plants and other water quality problems. A recent drought made this the case for Tallahassee, Florida’s Lake Piney Z. The Lake gets its name from its excess of pine trees and the z-shaped land formation and is nestled in a developing community off Apalachee Parkway.

Man’s previous impact on the lake was not very significant. Most of its problems were due to naturally occurring things. The drought led to and rapid growth of plants which led to the buildup of muck on the lake’s surface. But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are now trying to help. Recently, about 99% of the lake was drained and 25% of the muck was scraped away. The goal is to turn the area into a recreation spot for the community. Water was let back into the lake along with a supply of largemouth bass, bluegill, shell cracker, golden shiners, and channel catfish. Eventually the park will be open to biking, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

The Floridan Aquifer is a versatile source of usable water. It provides for irrigation, mining, and a source of freshwater. Parts of the aquifer, much like Piney Z Lake, have been negatively impacted by natural disasters and population growth. Its resources can be naturally replaced but when overpopulation occurs, overuse occurs and threatens the replenishment of the aquifer’s groundwater. Piney Z has also been affected by changes in population. Due to the recent development of the surrounding community, the lake experienced a lot of runoff and erosion. If this continues to happen then they will have to continuously scrape the lake’s bottom.

Eutrophication is also something that has greatly impacted Piney Z. It is water pollution caused by the excess of plant nutrients. Naturally, with the drought and increase in underwater plants, there was an increase in plant nutrients. The runoff from the building of local housing added to the increase of nutrients. We can attribute the overabundance of muck to eutrophication. We can also credit it with the disappearance of native fish that could not adapt to their new surroundings.

While eutrophication adds, and takes away, a lot from the water quality, there is much more to it than that- and much more that they still have to deal with. Temperature has a great affect on the water quality because it determines the solubility of oxygen in water- dissolved oxygen. In Piney Z lake’s case, there was not enough dissolved oxygen- which means the temperatures must have been too high- and the fish were unable to reproduce. Another parameter of water equality is pH. It determines how basic or acidic water is which generally affects whether or not fish will survive in the water. Piney Z became more acidic as we traveled east and had the best pH levels for fish in the very center of the lake. In order for all of the fish that they supplied to survive the people working with the lake will have to constantly maintain good pH levels. In addition to the previous parameters, there is something known as turbidity. It is the measurement of the lack of clarity of water- that basically means how much stuff is floating around in the water. Piney Z was probably high turbidity water previously but with its scraping out it should be clearer and more habitable for fish. Phosphates are added to the water with eutrophication. If there are too many phosphates added to a lake then the algae will begin to choke out other vegetation. Nitrates, like phosphates, can be bad for the quality of water if there are too many but in moderation they are good nutrients for plants.

There are many things contributing every day to the situation that Piney Z lake is facing. But there are also many people that are trying to make it as safe and pollutant and muck-free as they can. Hopefully, the authorities will be able to control the water quality and the surroundings so that runoff and erosion are stopped. This project has made me a lot more aware of the fact that many things contribute to the well-being of our natural resources. We cannot just leave lakes to live naturally when we are constantly changing the surroundings.

Copyright © 2010 The Florida Geographic Alliance