Unclogging Alligator Lake: FDEP doles out nearly $1.27 million Walton County officials think it’s time to restore Alligator Lake’s natural flow. Split by County Road 30A just west of Grayton Beach, the lake is divided into two sections. One is filled with brackish water and the other is “exclusively freshwater,” said Melinda Gates, the county’s coastal resource liaison. She said the condition is caused by an obstructed culverts under 30A that connects the two sides of the lake. With a more than $1.267 million grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the county plans to replace the “dilapidated culverts” with a bridge to bring some balance back to the lake. “This proposed project will not only restore the natural connection and circulation of the lake and improve the lake community and adjacent ecosystems, but also improve water quality in the targeted lakes and enhance fish and wildlife habitat(s),” Gates wrote in an email. According to information on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website provided by FDEP, the project will also make the lake more resilient and improve the long-term health of habitats in the area. “The project will directly improve water quality in watersheds injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil pill by restoring hydrologic connections between the coastal and freshwater portions of Alligator Lake,” the website said. In 2013 the county submitted a larger request to FDEP to use Deepwater Horizon funds to replace culverts at five local lakes, Gates said. Since then, different funding sources have been used for the other lakes. She added that Alligator Lake’s restoration was only one piece of a “much larger” project. Construction of the bridge is set to begin in October and finish next spring. Gates also expects Walton to soon get additional funding from the FDEP for a septic-to-sewer project around the coastal dune lakes. “I have not received the grant agreement yet, so I don’t have all the specifics ... but (it’s) definitely another great thing for our coastal dune lakes,” she said.