Piney Z Lake

Sarah F.

Lake Piney-Z
Sarah F.

Lake Piney-Z is only one small part of the whole of Lake Lafayette on the East side of Tallahassee, Florida. It’s about a mile off of Apalachee Parkway and houses are being built everywhere around the lake due to the recent opening of the new Piney-Z community. Along the lake run railroad tracks and a multitude of trees and shrubbery. Lake Piney-Z is cut off from the rest of Lake Lafayette by dikes on either side. Between the dikes are several ‘fingers’ where people can walk out onto the lake. The fingers were made when the muck on the bottom of the lake was cleared out and the piles of muck made the fingers. Restoration is underway to make the 193-acre lake and its surrounding property (bought by the city in 1995) a park where the public can fish, picnic, and explore.

Lake Piney-Z has an interesting history thanks to us humans. It was inhabited by Native Americans a very long time ago and today there are people looking for artifacts, but they’re doing it illegally. Later on, the lake was seen as a prime hunting ground but the only problem was that the water in Lake Piney-Z would occasionally slip in to the upper lake and be sucked down the sinkhole there (to the Floridan Aquifer). The sinkhole was there and still is today because of Karst topography. The layers of limestone began to decay and when they finally decayed enough, the ground sank in and made it possible for water to be inhaled by it and even sucked into the Floridan aquifer. Therefore, it was decided, since the land was privately owned, that dikes would be built on either side of Lake Piney-Z to keep the water in there all the time. They had no idea what this could do to the life of the lake. Over the years, eutrophication began to occur (the lake was gaining to many nutrients). No one thought much of it until they realized that the lake was becoming more muck than lake. It became hard for anything to live because there was no flow through the lake due to the dikes. Once the lake was purchased by the city in 1995, they decided to shape things up. They drained the lake and scraped the excess nutrients and other things off the bottom and then filled it back up. Although this won’t fix the lake forever, leave it to man to try and fix a problem he made in the first place.

Now that the lake is back up to par, the city is planning on making it into an urban fishery and the land around it into a park for biking and hiking. There are certain water quality parameters that are important to maintaining Lake Piney-Z as an urban fishery. Because the lake doesn’t flow anywhere, most everything is critical to keeping the lake healthy. Temperature must be maintained because the lake can get too hot or too cold since it just sits there. The fish could die, and then no one would be happy. Another important thing is the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. Without this the fish would have no way of getting oxygen and would therefore die. They would also die if there were too much of it. Also important to maintaining Piney-Z as an urban fishery is pH. Fish can’t live in water that is too acidic or too basic. For them to be happy and live longest, water should probably be at a pH level of 7.5 or 8. Turbidity is another crucial factor. It has to do with the clarity of the water and how much light can be filtered through. If it’s too bad, then no light can be filtered through to the plants and algae, and therefore the fish would have nothing to eat and the lake’s condition would worsen significantly in a short amount of time. Nitrates and phosphates are critical to keeping Lake Piney-Z a healthy urban fishery. If too many plants or animals die, too many nitrates will be produced which in turn lowers the dissolved oxygen level. An increase in nitrates can lead to an increase in phosphates which encourages an increase of plant growth and also algal blooms. The dissolved oxygen level will then decrease and fish will die, leaving Piney-Z no fish for its urban fishery. Increase in nitrates and phosphates can be prevented by making sure there’s little fertilizer runoff, septic tank runoff, and little improperly treated wastewater. All these parameters are critical to maintaining a healthy urban fishery at Lake Piney-Z.

During our experimentation at Lake Piney-Z, we measured some of the water quality parameters. With the help of a TI-83 and some of its paraphernalia we were able to measure the temperature of the water along with the pH level. Simply by hooking up a probe to the calculator and sticking it in the water and pushing a few buttons, we were able to measure these things. We also measured the amount of dissolved oxygen with special kits. These kits had a varying number of chemicals that when used correctly, could measure the amount of dissolved oxygen in a sample of water.

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