Decades later, efforts continue to clean Lake Apopka

Taxpayers have dumped more than $200 million into Lake Apopka, and it's still one of the sickest lakes in the state.  It remains a mess, 20 years after clean-up efforts began.   The problem is muck on the bottom, 15 feet deep in some places. 

"I think what people at that time tried what they thought would be an acceptable method of restoring the Lake, and it just turned out that it has taken far, far longer and a whole lot more money than they ever imagined it would," said State Senator Alan Hays from Umatilla.

Years of clean up has resulted in pea-green water, the return of some birds but still very few boats and fisherman.
When we asked CEO of Allied Group Jay Barfield if he would eat the fish out of the Lake he said "I would not."

But now a new approach is showing promise.  Diffusers sink to the bottom of the Lake and pump oxygen into the water.  Next, they plan to use bacteria to eat the muck on the bottom of Lake Apopka.

"There's that big, huge two letter work, IF.  If things go well I think within five years we will see very significant improvements and I don't think it is out of the question at all to see that Lake restored within 20 years," said Hays. 

The oxygen diffusing treatments and bacteria are far less expensive than dredging or anything else the State has done in the last 20 years.