SEMINOLE — County commissioners have agreed to spend $16.7 million for a years-long project to dredge Lake Seminole.
The dredging is the latest in the continuing effort to restore the lake's water quality to meet state and federal standards. Pinellas County will fund half the project using money from the Penny for Pinellas. The other half will come from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Lake Seminole was created in the late 1940s by damming an arm of Long Bayou. The 684-acre lake is surrounded mostly by housing and other urban development and is extensively used for recreation.
Beginning in 1989, the county became concerned about invasive plants in the lake and the water quality and developed a management plan designed to restore the lake and keep it in good shape.
Over the years, the county has spent millions of dollars trying to reach those goals: In 2005, for example, the lake was declared sick from stormwater runoff that had carried fertilizers and pesticides from nearby homes and businesses into the lake. Once there, the fertilizers and pesticides encouraged algae growth, which caused a green tinge in the lake.
As the algae grew, local vegetation was choked out and more muck accumulated. As more muck accumulated, fish died. The county spent $7 million to lower the lake and scrape the muck from the areas near the shore.
The county also restocked the lake.
In 2008, the county began a $6.5 million project to clean stormwater before it gets to the lake. Part of that project included construction of a treatment plant.
Now, the county wants to dredge the deeper part of the lake, said Kelli Levy, a division director for Pinellas County Water Management.
This latest project is expected to have two phases. Phase I, which will cost about $700,000, includes the design of the project. It is expected to begin this month and take 24 months. Phase II, which will cost about $16 million, includes the dredging itself. It is expected to take 30 months. Final completion is scheduled for Dec. 31, 2016.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.