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Clay dry creek

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Updated: 2/01 4:34 pm

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. -- Clay County's Keystone Heights used to be a vacationers paradise, until the lakes started disappearing along with the tourists.

"It's now become almost like a highway, a thruway," said Mayor Mary Lou Hildreth.

"The view from my home is nothing like what it was when I moved there 10 years ago. It's devastating."

Now, there's a new plan that could help water and business return to the community.

Action News went down with the St. Johns River Water Management District spokeswoman Teresa Monson. She showed us the long list of efforts being made to save the community.

"We've done a lot of study on the lake over the past two years, and certainly the lakes are the lifeblood of the community," Monson said.

Monson said the district saved money on some big projects recently, and plans to give up to $100,000 to Clay County officials to clean up Alligator Creek. The creek is full of fallen branches, debris, and vegetation that are blocking water from flowing into Keystone's lakes.

"We look at this maintenance issue as something that can be done immediately as opposed to some of the long-term or mid-term projects," said Monson.

Hildreth is hopeful, saying any small step is a step in the right direction, but she still worries about the future.

"While you want to be grateful and appreciative of anything that moves forward to help build our lakes back up, I'd like to see more. Sooner. Faster. Yesterday."

This week the Clay County Board of Commissioners approved their participation in the cleanup project. The St. Johns River Water Management District is now expected to give final approval at a board meeting on Feb. 11.

If approved, Monson said the money will come from the North Florida Aquifer Replenishment fund.

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