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Water-Related News

Hydrilla Proposed as Controversial Cure for Ailing Lake Apopka

The sickly Lake Apopka has been healing at a snail's pace despite undergoing some of the more costly environmental rehabilitations in Florida history.

So a state agency is thinking about speeding up the process by encouraging an aggressive, aquatic weed — hydrilla — to take root in the lake.

It's a hotly contested idea that appears to be leaving little room for compromise. Those who want the lake restored to a natural condition say the foreign plant would devastate native varieties if allowed to spread and would destroy any real chances of reviving the polluted lake. Fans of hunting and fishing counter that the fast-growing plant, imported from Asia but now considered a costly nuisance throughout much of the U.S., would work wonders in the lake as habitat for ducks and largemouth bass.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will decide whether hydrilla is a new friend or old foe of Lake Apopka, which covers nearly 50 square miles of Orange and Lake counties. Agency officials will take public comments Tuesday from 6-9 p.m. in Winter Garden's Tanner Hall.