On Tuesday March 21, the Leon County Commission will receive a Lake Munson status report and approving an extension of the Lake Munson drawdown through the Spring of 2024.
According to the status report, Lake Munson is a state-managed water body with chronic water quality and ecological problems. Problems include, fish kills, algal blooms, exotic vegetation, snails, high nutrient levels, low game fish productivity, sediment contamination and depressed oxygen levels.
The agenda item notes these issues have been ongoing for decades, and the City of Tallahassee, the Leon County Government and Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency have poured hundreds of millions of dollars to projects in the Lake Munson Basin and prioritizing upstream improvements which reduce the transport of sediment. See list of project below.
Lake Munson receives surface water flow from a 32,000-acre basin (the majority of it being located in the city of Tallahassee) and has historically been subjected to drainage with high nutrient loads and wastewater discharge discharges to the tributary system. The effects of this have resulted in embedding of legacy nutrients in the lake-bottom soil.
The pursuit to improve Lake Munson’s water quality problems and reduce the nutrient loading have been in progress since the 90s. The Lake Munson Action Plan was established in 1994 and has been utilized as a basis to guide watershed and stormwater improvements, regular testing and monitoring of water and regulatory actions to limit pollutions and protect natural resources.
In October 2022, the Board approved the Lake Munson Action Plan. The Action Plan will result in more frequent water quality testing and a survey of the lake which will help determine future in-lake mitigations strategies, a vegetation management program for treating invasive plants, and implementing periodic drawdowns.
The Action Plan recommends a treatment for algal blooms, ongoing engagement to evaluate the lake’s response to the drawdown, six-month updates to the Board and quarterly engagement with the Leon County Science Advisory Committee to go over enhanced monitoring.
The drawdown, monitoring and lake management operations began after the adoption of the Action Plan. However, due to unexpected high levels of rainfall throughout the winter, staff recommends the drawdown be delayed until the Spring of 2024. Throughout the next two years staff will continue to provide updates to the Board every six months.