Current status of lake levels is normal
By Anna Ely, LCWA
It has now been 3 months since Hurricane Irma lake levels have returned to normal. The following is the status of lake levels in the major chains of lakes:
Clermont Chain of Lakes
As of Wednesday morning, Dec. 6th, Lake Minnehaha is at 97.11 ft. which is 3.9 inches below the upper end of the regulatory range of 97.50. Flows from Big and Little Creek peaked at 659 cfs (cubic feet per second) just after the hurricane and were still flowing at 246 cfs in late October. Flows have been diminishing through November and December. Presently Big Creek discharging at 25.2 cfs and Little Creek discharging at 32.5 cfs for a combined flow of 57.7 cfs. The Cherry Lake Dam was closed on November 15th.
Harris Chain of Lakes
As of Wednesday morning, Dec. 6th, Lake Apopka is at 66.26 ft., 0.12 ft. above the regulatory schedule and 0.14 ft., below the maximum desirable elevation of 66.40 ft. The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) was releasing water from Lake Apopka at 375 cfs (300 cfs through the NuRF – the off-line alum treatment facility on the Apopka Beauclair Canal) and 75 cfs through the Apopka Lock and Dam prior to the hurricane and continued to release water from Lake Apopka at 350 cfs through early November and then gradually reduced to 24 cfs on November 15th where it has remained since then.
The SJRMWD also managed releases from the other lakes in the chain as well. Lakes Beauclair, Dora, Eustis and Harris average 62.33 ft. which is 0.12 ft. above regulation schedule, 0.17 ft. below the maximum desirable for Lakes Eustis and Harris and 0.62 ft. below the maximum desirable for Lake Dora. The SJRMWD is currently releasing 26 cfs through the Burrell structure that controls Lakes Beauclair, Dora, Eustis and Harris into Lake Griffin. Lake Griffin is at 58.35 ft. which is still 0.14 ft. above the regulatory schedule and the Moss Bluff is flowing at 32 cfs.
As we head into the dry season it is likely that lake levels will continue to decline. Lake levels are, however, driven by rainfall and any significant rain can affect the level of the lakes.