District Board and Staff Tour Sawgrass Lake Restoration Site

Board and staff on Sawgrass propertyLeft: Governing Board Members Sallie Parks, seated, and Ron Oakley, standing to her left, review the project map. Right: Manny Lopez, left, a senior environmental scientist, and Oakley examine lead shot deposits.

District staff and Board members recently toured Sawgrass Lake in Pinellas County to view the site of an upcoming restoration project.

The restoration project will improve water quality of Sawgrass Lake, which currently has elevated levels of lead and arsenic due to a gun range that, by law, was allowed to have spent lead shot fall on a portion of the District’s land for years.

“An estimated 11,000 to 13,000 tons of lead are within the contaminated area,” said Matt Preston, District Surface Water Improvement and Management Program engineer. “This restoration project will significantly improve the water quality of the lake as well as the overall health of Tampa Bay.”

The tour began at Sawgrass Lake Park, where District staff gave an overview of the project. The highlights included walking a portion of the one-mile-long boardwalk to a gazebo overlooking the lake, which provides a view of the entire project. Members also observed the flood control structure on the property, which regulates the flow of water from the Sawgrass Lake watershed, and drove to the western side of the property where construction for the project will occur.

“The Board members appreciated the opportunity to visit the site firsthand,” said Lou Kavouras, deputy executive director for District Outreach, Planning & Board Services. “Sawgrass Lake Park is a real jewel in the midst of a highly urbanized area, and the Boards take their responsibility to protect the water quality in the area very seriously.”

An approximately six-acre area of upland on the northwestern side of the property is currently being excavated and leveled in preparation for construction. The remediation and restoration of the contaminated area is expected to begin in summer 2010.