How Will the Restoration of Lake Apopka Affect Real Estate?
All of us here at the Erica Diaz Team are excited to see the progress that has been made over the past few years on the restoration of Lake Apopka. As Apopka real estate agents we have seen first hand the positive impact the project has brought to the Apopka real estate market. In this article we touch on what went wrong with the lake and the efforts being made that are bringing it back to life!
Lake Apopka has Seen Better Days
Lake Apopka has seen better days. In the 1940’s it was one of the main reasons people from all over came to Florida (this was before Walt Disney World, of course.) As one of the biggest lakes in the state. Lake Apopka was home to hundreds of different fish and wildlife species. For those who were serious about fishing, Lake Apopka was the place to be.
In this article, the Erica Diaz Team breaks down what the project means for the lake, the community, and the Apopka real estate market.
The Demise of Lake Apopka
What exactly happened to Lake Apopka? Why did it become so polluted and ruined? When people began to move to the area it took a toll on nature in the area. Just like in many cases when a naturally beautiful place becomes populated, it is not taken care of properly. this is when things get complicated, just like they did for Lake Apopka.
In 1941, there was an attempt to regulate water levels. The idea was to drain a specific area and use it for farming. In this attempt, a levee was built. This embankment drained 20,000 acres of marsh. Thus changing the entire ecosystem in the process. Losing the nutrient-rich water from this area caused a specific type of algae to run rampant in the area. The fish ate the deadly algae, and the birds ate the fish, causing a negative chain reaction. This then led to Lake Apopka quickly losing it’s recreational value, due to the game fish population decreasing significantly.
Then in 1980, a local pesticide company was responsible for improperly disposing of DDE and other toxic chemicals in significant quantities. Resulting in the toxins being spilled into the lake. The US Environmental Protection became involved and the pesticide company shut down. Unfortunately, it was too late for many species of fish, birds, and wildlife that called Lake Apopka home. Drastic efforts were taken to try to reverse the damage, but it was too late. The chemicals had made their way into the aquifer and spread through many of Central Florida’s lakes and waterways. The results of this accident can still be seen today. It continues to cause infertility and other issues in many animal species, including alligators.
Photo Credit: Russell Crouch
Unfortunately, the bad luck continued into another devastating issue for Lake Apopka. Local farmers unintentionally filtered water tainted with phosphorus into the lake. Their idea was great!
Farmers intended to flood the farm with lake water in the summer to stop erosion and then pump the water back into the lake during the harvesting seasons. However, when the water was pumped back into the lake, it had phosphorus in it that sucked the oxygen right out of the water. Making it impossible for plants to grow and causing another chain reaction of disaster. Over time, the soft sandy bottom of Lake Apopka has turned to sludge.
Help Arrives With the Lake Apopka Restoration Project
In 1991 when a team of real estate leaders in West Orange County came together to create the Friend of Lake Apopka (FOLA). Their goal was to take the land back from the farmers who had pumped this contaminated water back into the lake. In 1996, the Lake Apopka Restoration Act was passed and the farms responsible were shut down. With the farms no longer interfering, the St. John’s Water Management District was able to formulate a plan to convert the dry fields back to marshes.
$4.8M Restoration Project In The Works
A lot happened between 1996 and now and Lake Apopka is getting the attention it deserves. Almost $5M in attention, to be exact! The restoration project will focus on ways to attract new species of fish. Revitalizing the land that is already there is another major focus. All in all, creating an environment where aquatic plants can grow.
$3M of the allotted is dedicated to dredging the 500 acres of muck that is preventing so much life and growth. The focus area will be near Magnolia Park in Apopka and be the first step in significant changes to the troubled lake. A small portion of the funds, around $150,000 will be spent on testing geotubes, and $600,000 will go towards removing the phosphorus from the water
Ecosystems are just that, systems. Every plant and every animal exist because of the other. Local wildlife like alligators and bobcats can’t live without birds. Birds can’t live without fish. Fish can’t live without plants. The solution to many of Lake Apopka’s problems lies in the agriculture and vegetation in the lake.
$850,000 will be spent on planting spatterdock and bullrush. Two wetland plants that will thrive in the clean waters of Lake Apopka and be fundamental in rebuilding the fish habitat. As a test, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission planted thousands of these plants at the bottom of a specific area in Lake Apopka. The survival rate was promising. Environmentalists involved in planting took advantage of the drought. Low levels of water are actually ideal for planting these types of vegetation.
Fish Attraction Efforts
Once the plants are taken care of, the focus will be on attracting specific species of fish to the area. There will be 30 artificial habitats constructed, all of which will be strategically placed near public boat ramps and the Apopka-Beauclair canal. These fish attractors will consist of brush weighted down by blocks. Creating an attractive place for various fish species to live and enjoy the acres of freshly planted vegetation.
Bringing the state’s largest lake back to its original condition is a giant undertaking. Environmentalists plan to take it one step at a time, starting with building the artificial fish habitats and planting the spadderdock and bulrush in the spring.
Restoration Impact on Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
Throughout the phases of restoration, Apopka residents will still be able to enjoy one of the area’s most popular natural attractions. The Apopka Wildlife Nature Drive. This 11-mile loop takes you right by some of the lakes most picturesque spots. You’re guaranteed to see a variety of birds, turtles, fish. You’ll even massive alligators cruising through the water or sunbathing on the bank. An audio tour guides visitors through each part of the trail, giving an in-depth lesson about Apopka’s turbulent past and it’s vision for the future.
Major Wins for the Restoration of Lake Apopka
Over the past year there have been some major headway made on the restoration of Lake Apopka. The St. Johns River Water Management District recently shared some wins with The Apopka Voice.
- 941,000 pounds of gizzard shad were harvested, while 7,528 pound of phosphorus was removed.
- A pay-per-performance project was initiated for the removal of phosphorus from the lake. The facility is completed and expected to begin operating at full capacity this year (2021)!
- Thousands of emergent plants have been planted.
- Improvements are being made on the 10 miles of Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.
What Kind of Impact is the Restoration of Lake Apopka Making on Real Estate?
The restoration of Lake Apopka is having a very positive impact on Apopka real estate! People move to Central Florida for many reasons, and living on a lake is one of them. Apopka has an abundant amount of homes built on the shores of Lake Apopka. With the restoration of the lake comes increased home values!
There are a lot of neighborhoods settled on the banks of Lake Apopka, featuring waterfront estates with incredible views. Families move to Apopka specifically for the lake lifestyle.
What can current residents and new homebuyers expect when it comes to living in Apopka during the lake’s restoration process? Not much, thankfully. The $4.8M project is not expected to impact families who live in many of Apopka’s beautiful lakefront communities, such as Lakeshore Preserve.
As Lake Apopka is restored, residents in many of the upscale luxury homes will be able to enjoy a new and improved lakeside living experience. Wildlife will resurface, fishing will be plentiful again, and the opportunities for birdwatching and nature photography will be endless.
The environmental strategies in place to restore Lake Apopka are taking place away from the banks of the lake, and away from the local communities. Neighborhoods like Lakeshore and Arbor Ridge won’t be negatively affected by the improvement plan to Lake Apopka but will benefit from the restoration in many ways.
The Future is Bright for Lake Apopka
Lake Apopka’s comeback story is a testament to the dedication of the community to restoring Florida’s largest lake. Apopka residents were not content with letting the stunning lake become their history. Hundreds of people over decades have committed time and money to bring this once “dead lake” to life.
Apopka is a gorgeous place to live. It’s known for its public parks, open spaces, and loads of outdoor recreational options. Lake Apopka is a major aspect to the character of the city, and its restoration will bring life back to the community in more ways than one.
The North Shore continues to bring visitors to Lake Apopka. It is the area’s best wildlife viewing spot. As Lake Apopka makes its comeback, the North Shore area will continue to be a place for locals and visitors alike, to experience Lake Apopka’s natural beauty. Up close and personal!
Photo Credit: Russell Crouch
The Erica Diaz Team – How Will the Restoration of Lake Apopka Affect Real Estate?
Fun Fact: Lake Apopka is a place that is near and dear to Erica Diaz and her family! They live on the lake and it’s a huge part of their lives. Erica and husband, were actually part of the team that released baby bass into the lake a few years back! As an Apopka realtor, Erica knows a thing or two about Lake Apopka’s history, and even more about the Apopka real estate market!
If you’ve been thinking about moving to Apopka, call the Erica Diaz Team today! Whether you’re looking for lakefront property, a charming bungalow or something close to Downtown Apopka, the team can find the right home for you. And once you’re an Apopka resident, you can look forward to enjoying the new and improved Lake Apopka whenever you want!
[…] them with nature in a way other parks can’t. There is a simple boardwalk that leads out to Lake Apopka and plenty of places to set up for a picnic. Nature photographers love this park, as it is quiet […]