What is the current status of lake levels?
By Anna Ely, LCWA
It has been slightly above average rainfall since the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 due to rain resulting from seasonal passing fronts. We ended 2017 with a 4-inch rainfall surplus or 108% of average for the year. So far for 2018, Lake County is experiencing an additional half-inch surplus or 119% of average year to date rainfall.
As of this morning Lake Minnehaha, the reference lake for the Clermont Chain, is at 96.75 ft. MSL, exactly in the middle of the regulatory range. The regulatory range is from 96.0 ft. to 97.50 ft. The lake is about 0.20 ft. higher than it was at this same time last year. The combined flow from Big and Little Creeks into Lake Louisa is 3.81 cfs (cubic ft. per second) or 1,711 gpm (gallons per minute). As a comparison, in October 2017 after Hurricane Irma, the combine flow from Big and Little Creeks was 659 cfs or 289,960 gpm. The Cherry Lake Dam has been closed on February 20, 2018 when Lake Minnehaha was at 97.11 ft. MSL.
For the Harris Chain of Lakes, Lake Apopka is currently at 65.89 ft. slightly below the regulatory level of 66.09 ft. Flow from Lake Apopka is at 24 cfs, the minimum flow since February 27, 2018. The middle lakes (Beauclair, Carlton, Dora, Eustis and Harris) are currently at 62.17 ft., slightly below the regulatory level of 62.21 ft. Flow from the middles lakes through the Burrell lock and dam is at 18 cfs, the minimum flow. For Lake Griffin, the lake is currently at 58.12 ft. slightly below the regulatory level of 58.21 ft. Flow from Lake Griffin through the Moss Bluff lock and dam is at 21 cfs, the minimum flow.
This is the beginning of the typically dry time of year and the rainy season doesn’t usually get going until mid-June. This time of year is when evaporation rates are at their highest (warm days, bright sunny skies and relatively low humidity) and irrigation rates are also at their highest. As such, the lake levels may continue to fall unless the area receives some significant rainfall.