Fight over lake levels brews in south Lake County
(Cue the creepy music. Dum dum dadum...) Just when south Lake boaters thought they were safe, the fight over the level of water in the Clermont chain of lakes is poised to explode again.
For 15 years, boaters on the chain have been bemoaning the lack of water that has left docks sticking up in the air and boats grounded in garages.
Over the last few years, however, the water — along with the spirits of boaters — have risen. Let the H2O festivities begin!
The folks in the Emerald Lakes mobile-home park on State Road 50 have hired a lobbyist to push the Lake County Water Authority and local legislators to lower the lakes again so that the park that was built in a wetland doesn't have water in its streets.
"The agency is getting pressure to change the level, and while we're trying to resist it, come up with some other option — I don't know what it is, I don't know where it would come from — we're continuing to get that political pressure," said Mike Perry, executive director of the water authority.
The push from legislators is mounting behind the scenes. State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, sent a curt letter asking the authority to lower the water. He stated that he understood there is "great concern" over lower water causing "navigational difficulties" in the lakes.
Hays wrote, "My suggestion to remedy that is to dredge the canals and elevate any bridges that are necessary."
Typical Hays just barging in, knowing nothing. Hey, just pick up the bridge. And what's a little multimillion-dollar dredging? Public hearings? Nah, skip that nonsense. Just fix it.
Sigh. As if the problem belongs to the water authority.
Perry replied to Hays with a nine-page letter explaining the history and the reason that the water authority isn't going to lower the lakes — at least for now.
The short version is that man's meddling with the lakes in the 1950s by creating channels and dams to be able to lower flood waters quickly had the unintended effect of lowering the average and drought-time water levels.
Perry warned in the letter that if water levels in the Clermont chain were dropped, lakes, wetland, roadways and bridges would be harmed. People would scream their heads off again.