There are 48,500+ Homeowners' Associations (HOA) in Florida
Many of those HOA communities feature beautiful and scenic lakes in their developments. These lakes enrich the aesthetics of the community for their residents. Most HOA’s are responsible for keeping the lakes clean, healthy, and functional, as well as safe, by maintaining the shorelines and banks.
For example, in Palm Beach County, Lakes must meet the code per Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management Unified Land Development Code (ULDC).
Stormwater discharge and drainage features must be in compliance with the Lake Worth Drainage District’s (LWDD) regulations (LWDD manages the water resources for much of southeastern Palm Beach County). Structure and permits must also be in compliance with joint LWDD and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) regulations.
What is the scope of work involved with bringing lakes into compliance?
Conduct a site inspection of each of the lakes within the development. This inspection would entail identifying the vegetation concerns within the lakes by the species. Vegetation in the lakes can be submergent, as well as emergent species. Treatment options for these may vary considerably depending upon proximity to fountains and/or adjacent landscaping.
Identify and examine the problem areas and estimate the approximate coverage. Recommendations are made as to methods to resolve the areas of concern. These methods may include focused area herbicide treatment via spraying or wand treatment applications.
Photo-document the specific conditions in each of the lakes and determine how the lakes flow together (if more than one lake in the development).
Review the development covenants and Deed Restrictions to assure that the recommendations do not violate the described management of the lakes.
Research regulations and restrictions of the local drainage districts and stormwater discharge rules specific to water quality, of local County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Prepare an Environmental Assessment Report of findings, which includes specific recommendations and alternatives to resolve the vegetation concerns in the lakes. This may include a review of the treatment proposals provided by various aquatic weed control contractors.
How are lakes brought to code?
Generally, the work is done in two phases.
PHASE I – EROSION CONTROL
As the years go on, weather can cause erosion on the shorelines and banks, warranting the HOA to maintain them. Erosion can cause areas around the shoreline to become unstable, which can pose a danger to not only the residents but to the landscaping crew too.
One favored method is to install a Geo-Filter™ Tube Erosion Barrier System along an eroded shoreline.
Before (Steep Slope)
After Erosion Control Installation
PHASE II – PLANTING
Floridalake.com describes it best when explaining the immense value of littoral zones.
“The littoral zone, or nearshore part of a pond or lake, is an ideal place to plant shoreline plants. The littoral zone provides key habitat for wading birds, fish, and other aquatic invertebrate to forage and find refuge within. Additionally, planted littoral zones act as a filter to improve water quality. Aquatic plants can also help stabilize shorelines and reduce erosion. And, best of all, littoral plantings can provide an aesthetic quality to your pond or lake, with many plants flowering in a range of colors and natural beauty.”
Healthy littoral zones include:
Arrowhead (Sagitaria lancifolia) – White Flower
Spikerush (Eleocharis interstincta) – No Flower
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) – Purple Flower
Blue Flag Iris (Iris Virginica) – Purple Flower
Duck Potato (Sagittaria lancifolia) – White Flower
The littoral zone of a lake (or a large pond or a riverbank). Note the changes in vegetation with water depth. (Chara is an alga; all other vegetation are flowering plants.) Source: https://aquaticbiomebreakdown.weebly.com/littoral-zone.html.
The owner (examples include property management businesses, homeowner associations, golf course managers, & municipalities) of the lake are all required to maintain the lake and the littoral zone in perpetuity and should have an agreement with a licensed contractor to do so.
Also called the intertidal zone, the area near the shoreline, where sunlight is able to penetrate the sediments and characterized by abundant dissolved oxygen, nutrients, generally high wave energies and water motion, and alternating submergence and light exposure. It is the optimal region for aquatic plants to grow.
Retention lakes act like a sink holding storm water that drains from surrounding areas. Native aquatic plants growing in the littoral zone reduce erosion by stabilizing the banks, increase water quality by taking up excess nutrients and provide habitat for wading birds and other wildlife.
It is not allowed to remove and/or cut back littoral plants in a regulated lake within the Restrictive Covenant Agreements’ (RCA) Area of Record. If a property owner wishes to cut back littoral plants that have grown outside the Area of Record, they must first get approval by ERM. Please keep in mind, a required 5’ buffer extends beyond the littoral shelf to provide stability and prevent shelf erosion.
Innovative Nutrient Reduction Project Begins on Lake Okeechobee
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is leading a new, innovative project to remove invasive aquatic plants and evaluate nutrients removed to improve water quality in Lake Okeechobee in South Florida. This effort is part of the FWC’s strategy to use a variety of tools and explore new techniques to best manage for quality fish and wildlife habitat in Florida. While it is too soon to tell if the FWC will be able to use this technique on a larger scale, staff are excited about the possibility of having a new tool in the toolbox.
WE TAKE PRIDE in our commitment to the environment and its clients. Our work areas will always be left clear of any debris or work materials at the finish of each and every workday. Residents will barely realize that there is a major restoration project in progress. There will be no unsightly equipment or disturbing noise levels during work in progress. Dredging equipment (if needed) is relatively small in size and is portable, making it capable of working in confined areas with little disruption of normal daily business routines for residents and other property maintenance staff.