Algae Bloom In Tallahassee's Lake Lafayette

Dec 17, 2013

For most of the summer and into the fall, a number of Florida water bodies have experienced algae blooms. One popular Tallahassee lake is now experiencing a bloom, and one state official points to a nearby neighborhood as a possible cause.

Tallahassee’s Lake Lafayette is a popular fishing and walking spot. It’s actually three lakes, broken up by a series of dams. The portion of the lake experiencing the algae bloom is the section that backs up to Conner Boulevard, in the Piney Z Plantation community.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Michael Hill has been one of the chief architects of the way Lake Lafayette sits today—complete with islands and fishing fingers where people may cast their poles. He says the algae blooms in the lake are normal, but that doesn’t mean they have to happen:

“Probably January or February, it will clear up. But the public in this watershed need to be careful about fertilizing their yards."

Hill says one big contributor to Lafayette’s algae bloom is fertilizer runoff from the Piney Z plantation neighborhood, with its 800 homes.

“The grass in their yards only use such many nutrients, and when it rains, the rest of it the plants haven’t used rinse into the lake," he said. "And the plants in the lake, they grow—and that’s why it’s getting so green. There needs to be an education campaign. More is no better when it comes to fertilizer.” 

So far, the Lafayette algae bloom has been mild—that is to say, there have been no animal deaths associated with it. Nor is there a bad smell. But Hill can’t say whether the algae is toxic: that’s a decision left to the Florida Department of Health, which does not cite the lake on its website as one that carries any health advisories.