Banana Lake & Beyond


Pollution in Banana Lake

In 1970, I made a trip to the Stahl Canal to see the sewage treatment water flow into Banana Lake. The amount of water flowing from the treatment plant was staggering to me.

Here is how the mess started.

Originally, the City of Lakeland began treating wastewater on the Glendale site in 1926 using a 2.5 mgd primary treatment plant. This plant began discharging effluent to Banana Lake via Stahl Canal, a practice that continued for more than 65 years. In 1939 the City upgraded the treatment plant with trickling filters to achieve secondary treatment. In the late 1950’s and 1960’s, the City rebuilt the trickling filters and expanded the facility to 10 mgd.

The City began diverting up to 5.5 mgd of effluent from the Glendale treatment plant to the newly constructed C.D. McIntosh Jr. Power Plant for use as cooling water. In 1981 effluent pumped to the power plant was further treated on the power plant site and discharged (rapid infiltration) to the surficial aquifer adjacent to Lake Parker, thereby reducing the flows and loadings to Banana Lake.

In 1988, the City expanded the wastewater treatment system to include its newly constructed 4.0 mgd Northside plant. When the Northside plant went on-line, it became the primary source of cooling water for the power plant. The  sustained effluent discharge to Banana Lake, along with agricultural development in the Banana Lake watershed, severely degraded the water quality of the lake and down stream waterways.

Early in 1983, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) indicated that the City’s discharge permit to Banana Lake would not be renewed due to water quality problems in the lake. For this reason, both FDEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) negotiated compliance schedules with the City to cease discharging effluent to Stahl Canal and Banana Lake.

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So Banana Lake was dumped with tons of sewage water over decades. The clean up effort involved dredging the lake as noted below.

Dredging Banana Lake

Project ran from 1990-1992. The Banana Lake Feasibility Study and Restoration was the first full lake restoration project completed in Florida. The project required the assessment of the feasibility of lake restoration and recommendation of restoration means. Based on the initial engineering study, the decision was made to perform hydraulic dredging restoration.

AMEC-BCI began by completing surface and groundwater studies to define the potential for adverse impacts. The balance of the restoration project required determination of water circulation and discharge requirements, water quality assurance standards, equipment specification, and design and cost estimates. In addition, laboratory testing, sampling and toxic substance determination was required.

To finalize the project, document preparation and agency coordination was required. Upon completion, one million cubic yards, accounting for 100 percent of the organic muck and silt, was removed and the lake depth was increased by approximately 2.5 feet. The dredging did help but it is not possible to remove all the microscopic sized plant and animal life.

New water runoff with nutrients caused the growth of new micro life and we have the present murky conditions.

New Project To Help Banana Lake Water Quality

Elizabeth Place Wetland Treatment Project

Banana Lake flows into Lake Hancock carrying all that extra nitrogen and phosphorus. It is important that Banana Lake be made cleaner to cut down on (TMDLs) for both lakes.

Click image below for larger view.


Banana to Lake Hancock Canal

You can see from the map below that a canal was dug letting the nasty water from Banana Lake into Lake Hancock then down Saddle Creek and into the Peace River. Now efforts are being made to filter the water through a marsh between Banana and Lake Hancock.

Click image below for larger view.



Circle B Bar Photo Gallery

I made a trip to the Circle B Bar Ranch Reserve to see what had been done to reclaim the marsh area of the old cattle ranch property. I wanted to see how well the water from Banana Lake was being cleaned up by the marsh. The project is a success, as you can tell by the pictures below.

Click any image below to open the Photo Gallery.


Now would be a good time to ask this question?

What is a Total Daily Maximun Load (TMDL)?

To say Lake Hancock is messed up is not very scientific.

To the rescue is TMDL. You can get a Department of Environmental Protection explanation here.

Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve

Time to relax with some nice music and many birds.