September 22, 2020
NOTICE: Environmental Disaster to Bear Lake (and impacts to sister lakes and the Little Wekiva)
This website’s previous post regarding the Outdoor Living Products development on Orange Blossom Trail and the dirt/mud that has flowed from that property into Bear Lake inadvertently failed to include some of the information provided by Outdoor Living Products. A portion of these documents are included in this update (while other photographs are available on request). BLPA cannot comment on the efficacy of Outdoor Living Product’s mitigation efforts since late September, but we applauded the fact that they appear to have taken some steps to correct some or all of the deficiencies of their development plans/execution. BLPA has hired an outside engineer to review Outdoor Living Properties permanent and short term storm water plans/installations to protect Bear Lake, its sister-lakes and its neighborhoods. We will continue to provide updates here, but as an all-volunteer organization, these updates are often sporadic.
General Background: For over thirty years the non-profit Bear Lake Preservation Association has fought to protect our lakes and neighborhoods from environmental and other harms. Bear Lake has a statewide reputation as for its beauty and great water clarity, and for its suburban reactional qualities. Bear Lake is low in phosphorous and has a very small amount of muck on the bottom making it one of the “Top Lakes in the State” according to the University of Florida Lakewatchprogram.
Environmental Disaster: For the last several months, tons of muddy water has illegally been flushed into pristine BearLake from Outdoor Living Products’ construction project (next to the BP at Oranole Way and Orange Blossom Trail). The majority of the muddy water entered the lake around the canal – it quickly spread across the lake and beyond, aided by wind and currents.
Response: To date, BLPA has worked with Seminole County, Orange County and the St. Johns River Water Management District in an effort to try to compel the property owner to stop the mud from leaving Outdoor Living’s property. We have also hired Dean Mead as our attorney (see the attached letter and photos for additional information). Late last week, Outdoor Living retained legal counsel and environmental consultants. While BLPA has not yet analyzed Outdoor Living’s response to this emergency, we are heartened to see that we seem to have their attention. BLPA is also working with lake experts and others to determine the adequacy of Outdoor Living’s response and to determine both the short term and long term damages done to Bear Lake and beyond. Outdoor Living understands that BLPA and its residents has demanded that Outdoor Living pay for the treatable and incurable damages to the lake. It is too early to understand the extent of the damage and the best response. BLPA will update this website and send out email blasts from time to time as we have more information related to how we plan to address the impacts that the mud have caused to the lake quality.
How to help: (a) Make sure BLPA has your email address so we can keep you up to date by contacting Nancy Dunn (firstname.lastname@example.org); (b) If the need arises, attend community meeting(s) to support our efforts to stop the mud from flowing into the lake and to seek compensation to be paid for the harm caused by the mud (meetings will be virtual during the Covid pandemic); and (c) consider joining BLPA at $85/year – all of our funds are used to help protect the lakes and neighborhoods.Update – October 26,2020:Letter-to-Outdoor-Living-Products-Inc.-O3022965x9F8AD