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Natural Resources

What We Do

  • WATER QUALITY & AQUatic vegetation monitoring

    The Natural Resources Division consistently maps & surveys area lakes to ensure access to up-to-date data on lake vegetation to inform management decisions. These surveys also provide a wealth of additional data which help keep staff informed on the unique character of our many lakes and how they are changing over time. In addition, regular surveys help to efficiently and responsibly manage invasive and nuisance vegetation.

    To view Bathymetry maps (showing detailed depths and fishing holes in each lake) of our lakes produced from these surveys click here. Individual bathymetry maps are available and can be printed from our Lakes web map application.

    Additionally, staff closely monitors lake water quality on a quarterly basis based off of sampling performed by Polk County Natural Resources Division.

  • For more information on lake water quality please visit Our Lakes Page.
  • NPDES Reporting & Stormwater Infrastructure Management

    National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) report is a federal requirement that arose from the Clean Water Act managed through the FDEP. Its goal is to regulate discharge into public water bodies and reduce the amount of pollutant discharged. To ensure compliance, data on stormwater infrastructure, public outreach, and Best Management Practices (BMPs) is collected and updated annually.

    Staff also takes an involved role that goes above and beyond compliance by ensuring stormwater systems are managed effectively. This is achieved by maintaining a complete inventory of stormwater pipes and outfalls to prioritize efficient maintenance, as well as through the establishment of Low Impact Development (LID) stormwater solutions such as rain gardens (see below).

  • Urban forestry

    Trees are a key natural resource that can help improve property values for the community, incentivize commercial development, reduce A/C costs, reduce stormwater runoff and flooding, and provide valuable habitat. Urban forestry is the practices and policies which care for public trees. The division takes an active role in working with the Urban Forest Advisory Board to ensure these resources are managed effectively.

    Infographic depicting the benefits of trees given away as part of the Arbor Day event. These include reduced storm runoff, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, increased canopy cover, property values, and reduction in electricity bills.

    A key element of this is the annual Arbor Day Celebration and Giveaway, hosted in partnership with the Forest Service and UF/IFAS Polk County Extension, which works to educate & involve the community in the urban forest. Native, Florida-Friendly trees are selected for their specific benefits to our forest’s needs and given away to residents in conjunction with brief lessons on selection, planting, and maintenance. Celebrations are typically held on Florida’s Arbor Day, in late January. To see a graphic depicting local forest diversity and total Arbor Day plantings click here

  • Rain Gardens, Nature Parks, and GSI implementation

    A key tenet of the Division’s values is to provide solutions that benefit the economy and community as well as the environment.

    Photo of South Lake Howard Nature Park in Winter Haven, Florida

    South Lake Howard Nature Park

    The City currently has three nature parks, with a fourth in development, which demonstrate this. These parks provide recreational opportunities for the community, beautify the cityscape, and help slow & treat stormwater run-off before they enter our lakes. To see a map showing nature parks and their drainage basins (the area from which runoff is caught within the park) click here

  • Photo of a Rain Garden on Ave A NW, Winter Haven, FL.

    Ave A NW Rain garden

    Rain gardens are another Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) practice that improves water quality and quantity. They work by directing rainfall to a small infiltration area designed to absorb rainfall through several soil layers to eventually infiltrate into the Florida Aquifer (where we get the majority of our drinking water). >>Click the image to the left to go on a virtual tour of the City’s rain gardens<<

  • Outreach

    The division also provides multiple opportunities to engage with the public and provide education & outreach on our natural systems and resources. These include participation with our Parks, Recreation & Culture department to provide kayaking lessons, watershed education, and boating tours to summer youth camps, as well as offering kayaking lessons & nature tours at special events throughout the year. Upcoming special events will be announced on the City’s news feed.