According to Mark Fulkerson, Ph.D., P.E., chief professional engineer in the Water Resources Bureau for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the District will close structures this weekend within of the Tsala Apopka Lake Chain near high levels.
All the lakes, canals, and marshes within of the Tsala Apopka Lake Chain have risen nearly 6 inches over the past 10 days due to increased rainfall and inflows from the Withlacoochee River.
As of Friday, all three pools are now at or above their target levels for the year and are within a few inches of their high guidance levels, Fulkerson said.
Late Friday night, the Leslie Heifner and Floral City structures, which have been open for weeks bringing river water into the lake chain, will be partially closed and the canals between the Withlacoochee River and Floral City Pool will no longer be navigable by boat.
“We’ll continue to monitor lake levels and rainfall over the next couple days and anticipate fully closing the water control structures that have been bringing river water into the pools,” Fulkerson said.
The Van Ness Structure on the Hernando Pool will remain open sending excess water to Two Mile Prairie, a well-drained sandy prairie system that helps recharge the aquifer.
“Our rainy season typically ends in mid-September, so our goal is to maintain the current water levels for as long as possible,” Fulkerson said. “Of course, water levels will naturally drop as we enter the dry season.”
If rainfall significantly raises lake levels in the coming days, Fulkerson said, “we’ll plan to open additional structures to release that excess water.”