BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Deer Point Lake can hold around ten billion gallons of water. It also supplies all of Bay County’s drinking water.

Every winter, the county drains the lake of about half of its water for one important reason.

“Every year, we get a recommendation from the Florida Wildlife Commission, FWC, to take the lake down to help with the aquatic grass,” Bay County Water Division Superintendent Sean Lathrop said. “It gets pretty bad in the summertime in the lake, the grass gets bad so we try to take the lake down in the colder months of the year so the freeze can help kill some of the grass.”

The aquatic grass is a non-native species that grows rapidly.

The reason for killing it is because it helps with the natural ecosystem, and makes the lake more appealing for recreational use.

“I know that it can be a hindrance for people trying to use the lake and our goal is to allow people to use the lake as much as they like,” Lathrop said.

Lathrop hopes the hard freeze the area experienced in December helped kill more grass than usual.

“Hopefully with the large freeze that we had for a few days back in December and Christmas, we should see some favorable results from that large freeze,” Lathrop said. “Typically in the years past, we get just a couple of days of freezing and it’s usually only for a few hours overnight. This year, the freezing temperatures lasted for about 36 hours so we’re hoping that we should see some better results this year than in the past.”

The county will reopen the drawdown gates on Wednesday.

It should take about a week for the lake to fill back up to normal levels.