Even though the rainy season and the hurricane season is nearing, the County is in a very dry period. After a wet winter, rainfall in March was below average, April was slightly above average, and May started out wet but has turned out to be well below average. The lack of rainfall has been reflected in the lake levels.
As of this morning (May 28th) Lake Minnehaha, the reference lake for the Clermont Chain, is at 95.80 ft. MSL, 0.20 ft. (about 2 ½ inches) below the lower end of the regulatory range. The regulatory range is from 96.0 ft. to 97.50 ft. The combined flow from Big and Little Creeks into Lake Louisa is currently just less than 1 cfs (cubic ft. per second) or 278 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 is closed and will remain closed until lake levels rise to 97.0 ft. during the summer rainy season.
For the Harris Chain of Lakes, all the lakes are below the regulatory levels. Lake Apopka is currently at 65.50 ft. which is 0.17 ft. (about 2.0 inches) below the regulatory level of 65.67 ft. Flow from Lake Apopka through the spillway is at 12 cfs as of noon today. The middle lakes (Beauclair, Carlton, Dora, Eustis and Harris) are currently at 61.95 ft which is 0.11 ft. (about 1½
inches) below the regulatory level of 62.06. Flow from the middle lakes through the Burrell lock and dam is at 18 cfs. For Lake Griffin, the lake is currently at 57.93 ft. which is 0.13 ft. (slightly more than 1½ inches) below the regulatory level of 58.06 ft. Flow from Lake Griffin through the Moss Bluff lock and dam is at 21 cfs.
Hurricane season begins June 1st and doesn’t end until November 1st. We watch the lake levels closely and will respond as necessary as the summer rainy season and the tropical storm season gets going.
During May, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners and the Lake County Water Authority partnered to treat hydrilla (an exotic invasive plant that has been taking over the Harris Chain. Hydrilla is a source of some conflict among the user groups in the Harris Chain. The bass anglers love it because of the cover it provides for bass and boaters despise it because it limits the ability to navigate around the lakes. Duck hunters like it when it tops out however crappie anglers need open water to target their preferred catch. The FWC is working to manage hydrilla at its lowest level possible in order to use the least amount of herbicide.
Enjoy the lakes this summer, but please remember to boat safely, be courteous and respectful to other vessels and manage your wakes to prevent damage to shorelines.