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Major project to clean up Lakeland's Lake Hollingsworth about to get underway

The city is launching a project in a few days to remove excess weeds and vegetation from Lake Hollingsworth.

LAKELAND, Fla. — If you think getting the weeds out of your front yard is a challenge, wait until you see what's about to happen in Lakeland.

The city is launching a project in a few days to remove excess weeds and vegetation from Lake Hollingsworth.

If there's any spot that puts the lake in Lakeland, it's the city's scenic Lake Hollingsworth.

It’s why neighbors say they're glad to hear about a project starting next week to remove tons of excess weeds and non-native vegetation from the lake.

“I never think about what's going on in it. I just know that it's a beautiful lake,” neighbor Bob Yuhas said.


Laurie Smith, the city's lake and stormwater manager, says the idea is to improve water flow and water quality.

“We have plants that are called emergent. You'll see a lily pad in the lake. Most of those are native species, but when they overtake the entire area, it overtakes the habitat that needs to be more diverse,” Smith said.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has ordered Lakeland to improve the quality of several of its lakes.

Using a harvesting machine and barges, they'll remove the vegetation and then transport it to a facility for compositing.

“We will go in there and kind of separate those species out, create some pathways that help to improve the habitat for aquatic animals and birds as well,” Smith said.

Neighbors say they're also happy about the timing of it since storm season is now here.

Keeping pipes that run into Lake Hollingsworth clear of debris is that much more important.

“I would be very concerned with the hurricane season coming up that things could get flooded or clogged,” neighbor Julia Irby said.

Boaters are happy too.

All those plants might attract wildlife, but they can also be a hazard.

“Going through the south end of the lake, there are so many weeds there,” angler Larry Baker said. “And the next thing you know, I spun my prop. So, it is important.”

The city plans to move its heavy equipment into place on Monday, June 5, and the project should start the following day.

It's expected to last about four to six weeks at a cost of about $25,000, which the city says will come from its stormwater utility fund.

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