The massive effort to remove 14 acres of floating vegetation from Hunters Lake in Hernando County is nearly complete.

  • Project started in November
  • Lakeside residents have lived with "tussocks" for more than a decade
  • Project cost $150,000

The project started in November, and many residents tell us they're pleased with the progress they've seen. It's something they say is long overdue.

"We never thought we'd see the day,” resident Nancy Douglas said.

The massive piles of vegetation -- called "tussocks" -- have plagued the lake for the 15 years Douglas has lived there. She said they make it difficult to use the lake.

"When they try to cut them out, then they come floating by and plug up your land around you," Douglas explained.

So it was a welcome sight when harvesters started canvassing the lake and removing a significant amount of tussocks from the canals and main waterway.

The $150,000 project is about 95 percent complete. Hernando County Aquatic Services Manager Keith Kolasa said the fluctuating water levels in Hunters Lake makes it easy for tussocks to develop.

"The things like the lilies that are very prolific in the lake during a drought, they'll grow thick, and after the water comes up during a hurricane they'll pop up on the surface and cause a tussock," Kolasa said.

Kolasa said removing the tussocks won't just help the people who live on the lake better navigate the waterways -- it will also help the environment under the water.

"It's not good for water quality," Kolasa explained. "It has a lot of organic material in the form of tussock, the floating islands, and during the summer that can cause dissolved oxygen to drop. It's not healthy for the fish."

While Kolasa admitted they won't be able to remove all the vegetation from the water, Douglas said it will make a big difference.

"We'll probably see more birds, because there will be more fish and fisherman coming in," Douglas said. "It's nice to see people using the lake."

Kolasa said the county's work on the lake should be finished next week, then FWC will come in for a few weeks for their own clean up efforts. He expects everything to be done by January.