WRAP Project OverviewRidge Lakes Restoration Initiative

Summary culvert

Approximately 130 lakes lie along the Lake Wales Ridge, which extends roughly 90 miles along the center of the state in Polk and Highlands counties. A high number of deep sinkhole basin lakes makes this region uniquely different from the other lake regions in the District, as well as throughout the state.

The lakes along the Ridge are threatened by declining water quality and declining lake levels. Common water quality impacts include stormwater runoff, wastewater effluent, residential and fertilizer applications, agricultural runoff, groundwater pollution, shoreline habitat degradation and hydrologic alterations.

Through the Ridge Lakes Restoration Initiative, emphasis is placed on protective lake management strategies in an attempt to prevent further degradation. Stormwater treatment is identified as a high priority. Subsequently, the objective of these projects is the protection and enhancement of water quality through stormwater treatment as well as enhancement and restoration of natural systems and further flood protection. The District currently has four projects ongoing under the Ridge Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The projects will design, permit and construct stormwater treatment systems to treat runoff. Long-term objectives also include enhancing and restoring natural systems and achieving further flood protection. The District currently has four projects ongoing under the Ridge Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Projected cost*: $10 million through 2025


  • Polk County
  • Highlands County
  • City of Sebring
  • Town of Avon Park
  • Town of Dundee
  • Town of Lake Placid
  • Florida Department of Transportation


  • Enhancement and restoration of natural systems
  • Flood protection

Project components

Lake Menzie Stormwater Retrofit

Lake Menzie, located in the town of Dundee, is the first lake to receive a stormwater retrofit in a multiyear project funded as a Basin Initiative to design, permit and construct stormwater treatment systems for ten lakes located within the Lake Wales Ridge in Polk and Highlands counties. The lake is highly utilized for recreational activities and is a focal point of Dundee, since one of the town’s parks surrounds the entire lake.

The system will treat runoff from the commercial area of Dundee and State Road 17 and will consist of two swales, two retention basins and a long infiltration underground drain. The completed project will be constructed by July 2009 and will provide water quality and habitat enhancement of Lake Menzie.

Lake Clay Stormwater Retrofit

This project entails the design, permitting and construction of a stormwater treatment system within the most urbanized subbasin of Lake Clay in Highlands County. Lake Clay has been identified as a lake that has relatively good water quality and habitat that is in need of protection. The lake is frequently used for recreational purposes, including fishing, boating and skiing, and is an economic resource to the local community.

The completed stormwater best management practices will reduce pollutant loads entering the lake through stormwater runoff and will be a proactive measure toward protecting the lake’s water quality and habitat. The stormwater retrofit will include the installation of underground drains along existing county and city road easements and also within the parking lots of private businesses. Design and permitting are underway with construction anticipated to begin by March 2010.

Lake Isis Stormwater Retrofit

Lake Isis is located in the town of Avon Park and is well known for its good water quality and excellent water clarity. With its clear water and depth reaching 65 feet, the lake has been used for scuba training in the past. The lake receives direct untreated stormwater runoff from a one-mile stretch of US Highway 27 and commercial parking lots. As a result of the large volume of runoff, erosion and sediment buildup have been a long-term problem for the lake, causing a portion of the lake to fill with sediment and debris. The lake was selected for a stormwater improvement plan to prevent further sediment accumulation and degradation of the lake’s water quality. This project is proactively maintaining water quality while lake conditions are still reasonably healthy and will include a dry retention pond and the installation of an underground drain to provide treatment of stormwater runoff generated from US Highway 27.

Lake Tulane Stormwater Retrofit

Lake Tulane is located in the town of Avon Park and is another Ridge lake known for its good water clarity. The lake receives runoff from a residential area that discharges directly into the lake through a series of street-end pipes. The stormwater treatment system designed for this site will be located adjacent to the lake on town-owned property. The sandy soils along the lake offer the opportunity to provide treatment through the installation of swales and underground drains that require little space.

* Several components of the WRAP are still undergoing feasibility studies. Any costs associated with these projects are therefore estimated.

Ridge lakes in Polk and Highlands counties.


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