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Natural dilemma: Cattails may choke clean Lake Druid

One of Orlando’s least polluted lakes, long hidden but now scenery for a new park, owes its condition to a riotous growth of cattails that both cleanse and threaten to strangle it.

That makes Lake Druid, with water quality that ranks as fourth healthiest of 94 lakes in Orlando, a paradox for the city.

Although native, officials say the cattails are growing out of control because they thrive on absorbing pollution of urban runoff. Removing too much of them could leave Druid as impaired as better-known city lakes, such as Davis, Lancaster and Lawsona.

“That lake is extremely healthy because of the cattails,” said Lisa Henry, a city official overseeing pollution prevention and lake health. “My biggest fear is we would clean up this lake and we would crash it.”

The city, however, is compelled to do something about the cattails. Most of Druid is in the Audubon Park neighborhood. Adjoining the lake’s southeast corner is Lake Druid Park, which opened two years ago after a costly cleanup.