Piney Z Lake

Srikant K.

Srikant K.
May 12,2002
Chemistry I Honors

The Narrative of Lake Piney-Z

Lake Piney-Z is a 193-acre lake located east of Tallahassee in Leon County as part of a group of lakes that belong to Lake Lafayette. Lake Piney-Z gets its name the abundance of pine trees on the 407 acres of z shaped land that encompasses the lake. The lake is located a mile from Apalachee Parkway (Highway 27) at an approximate latitude of 30°26'30" and a longitude of 84°11'13". It’s currently next to the Piney-Z housing development, which is rapidly growing. Lake Piney-Z has been going through a major restoration project for the past four years as developers have attempted to make it into a recreation site. Piney-Z has had a changing history with the condition of the environment being a major issue.

Throughout the years, Lake Piney-Z has been helped by and been destructed by man. Lake Piney-Z was originally a river off of the much larger Lake Lafayette. As Piney-Z developed into a lake, wildlife officials in 1947 were forced to build levies in order to contain the high rate of water that was being drained into the sinkhole. The water was contained and the lake was restored, but the algae growth led to the development of muck on the floor of the lake. This muck buildup led to the much publicized restoration of Lake Piney-Z in 1998. As far as recreation, Piney-Z was originally used for hunting, but then became a haven for fishing before the muck buildup began affecting the quality of the water, which became dynamically low. The 1998 restoration plan’s goals include transforming Piney-Z into a fishery as well as a park. The lake in its current state is located on hill covered land that is covered with many different kinds of trees and vegetations. The water as of March 20, 2002 was somewhat murky, but much of the muck in the lake was not clearly visible.

In 1995, the property of Lake Piney-Z was purchased by the city of Tallahassee. Following the purchase, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Michael Hill was called into determine that state of the lake, and he discovered that the there were not many fish due to the dense aquatic plant population, poor water quality, a heavy layer of muck, and a lack of oxygen in the water, which hindered the ability of fish to reproduce. This determination led to the draining of 99% of the water from Piney-Z. Once this was completed, 25% of the lake’s, muck was removed and used to create finger dikes and islands for fishing. When Piney-Z was refilled with water, a number of fish were added to the lake including blue gills and largemouth bass. When the project is finally completed, Piney-Z will become a fish management area.

Lake Piney-Z is located in a unique part of the country on a special type of land. Underneath the lake, deep below the ground is a layer of porous limestone and dolomite stone known as the Florida Aquifer. The main purpose the aquifer has involves providing us with fresh drinking water. The Florida Aquifer, one of the largest in the country, stretches from Florida all the way to Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Above as well as below the aquifer there are layers of gravel, sand, clay dolomite or limestone. The height of the underground limestone layers varies from a few feet to a few thousand feet thick. Holes located in the aquifer allow water to flow through, and the result in Karst topography. Limestone’s interaction with underground water results in water dissolving the limestone and forming Karst topography. Having Karst topography, named after the Kras plateau in eastern Italy, means there is and underground formation of channels and caves, but a disadvantage is the susceptibility for the formation of sinkholes. Sinkholes are depressions that occur when enough of the limestone is eroded away. Though obviously large sinkholes are not evident at Lake Piney-Z, the possibility exists due to the Florida Aquifer underneath the lake. Another concern that officials had to and currently are dealing with it eutrophication. Eutrophication is the when sediments, sewage, or fertilizers are introduced into water resulting in an increase in the concentration of available nutrients. This increase in the concentration of nitrogen or phosphorus sparks an algae bloom, which in the case of Piney-Z led to the formation of muck. There are two forms of eutrophication, natural and cultural. Natural eutrophication is when lakes due to an increase in age start to have an increase in the concentration of nutrients. This process takes much time, but can be sped up through cultural eutrophication, which involves humans polluting the water creating an algae bloom. Physically Lake Piney-Z is unique, but it has been influenced by the works of man.

For Lake Piney-Z to be maintained as an urban fishery, several water quality parameters must be kept up to standard and they include temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, phosphates, and nitrates. The first crucial parameter that was measured at Lake Piney-Z was water temperature. Water temperature is important since the temperature should be kept in a way that allows it to not change as a result of human activity. This would relate to fishing since humans fishing in Piney-Z should not influence the condition of the lake. In addition, a high water temperature means the water could have trouble holding essential gasses such as oxygen. We of course used a thermometer and graphing calculator to measure the water temperature of Lake Piney-Z.

Dissolved oxygen was one of the most important elements we looked into when conducting our tests at Piney-Z. Dissolved oxygen is a necessary component in order to have aquatic life and it is needed for natural water purification. Oxygen gets into the water by a process known as aeration, photosynthesis, and by diffusing from the surrounding air. A lower dissolved oxygen reading means a greater stress is being placed on the environment. We conducted this test by collecting a sample of water at a given point, and then we used the dissolved oxygen kit to complete an on site test.

Ph was another parameter measured, and it is a measure of the acidic or basic (alkaline) nature of a solution, which in this case is the water. A good pH level to ensure the protection of life is between 6.0 and 9.0. This would obviously be necessary to maintain a fishery with an adequate number of fish. The most significant environmental impact pH could is synergistic energy, which involves the combination of two or more substances that produce effects greater than their sum. The main reason we measured pH with the graphing calculator was to be sure that Piney-Z as an urban fishery could maintain life.

Turbidity, the measure of water clarity, is important in order to determine if Piney-Z is appropriate for fish and other aquatic wildlife. Basically, murky water has a high turbidity, while low turbidity is represented by clear water. Soil particles, sewage, plankton and industrial wastes are suspended particles that increase turbidity and decrease the transmission of light. Biodiversity is decreased by turbidity and suspended solids have a tendency to harm aquatic organisms in the lake. The turbidity of water in Lake Piney-Z was not a great issue, and this could be determined by simply viewing it, but an increase in turbidity would delay the transformation of Piney-Z into a fishing haven.

Finally, phosphates and nitrogen are key elements that help scientists understand the current state of a lake. Phosphorus is an essential element needed in order for plants to grow. Normally phosphorus is low in waterways, but humans sometimes add it inadvertently through fertilizers and industrial waste. This causes algae and plankton to wildly grow, which to an extent could cause an increase in fish, but also mass chaos is a possibility. Excessive growth of plant life was a deciding factor in using the muck from Piney-Z to build the finger dikes. Nitrogen is similarly an influential element for everyone since it makes up 80% of the earth’s air, and it is found in the cells of all living things. Nitrogen compounds serve as nutrients in the lakes, but nitrate reactions [NO3-] in fresh water can cause oxygen depletion, which leads to the loss of aquatic life. Nitrates also produce a serious condition in fish called "brown blood” disease, and the nitrates lead to the formation of methemoglobin, which destroys the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen. This condition has an impact on human babies. Unwanted nitrogen in the water could have adverse affects on many organisms.

In order for Lake Piney-Z to be maintained as an urban fishery, all of the above water parameters must be kept at normal levels because problems could run rampant as they did in the past.

Works Cited

Copyright © 2010 The Florida Geographic Alliance