Seminole County turns to ancient Roman method to help clean Lake Jesup
Seminole County is turning to an ancient method to solve a modern problem.
Polluted water runoff from street gutters and lawns is flowing into Lake Jesup from neighboring Lake Mary, Sanford, Altamonte Springs, Winter Park and Orlando, turning one of the region's largest lakes into a thick, green mess.
That's why Seminole County plans to clean the waters of Soldiers Creek flowing into Lake Jesup by building a $7.7 million facility that, while high-tech, borrows from an ancient method first used by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago to clean their drinking water.
"This is a really good investment, and I'm thrilled about it," said Linda Young, executive director of the Florida Clean Water Network. "I know Lake Jesup is impaired, and it has a lot of problems. … So anything we can do to capture those pollutants before they reach Lake Jesup and the St. Johns [River] is a bonus.
"As Soldiers Creek — just east of U.S. Highway 17-92 near Lake Mary — flows into Lake Jesup, it carries with it a noxious brew of phosphorus and nitrogen pollutants that feed algae blooms and turn clear lake water into the color of pea soup.
The thick algae prevent sunlight from reaching the bottom of a lake, hindering the growth of beneficial plants, such as aquatic grasses that fish use to forage or lay eggs.
Water from Lake Jesup eventually flows into Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River, the state's longest river.
To clean up a portion of that flow, Seminole is building its nutrient reduction facility — or NuRF —on a site with an existing retention pond off County Road 427 at Country Club Road near Lake Mary. Construction is expected to start in July, and the project should be completed by the end of 2016.