Loch Leven is a 168-acre waterbody east of Eustis and north of Mt Dora between Highway 441
and Highway 44B (Figure 1).
At over 163 feet above mean sea level, Loch Leven is known to be the highest natural lake in the State of Florida. Water historically and currently exits the lake through a wetland on the northside of the lake to Lake Joanna (Figure 2).
The 1941 aerial photography shows the natural wetland connection to the north and a very small creek that connects to Lake Joanna (Figure 3). The creek seems to have been recently modified to improve flow and likely assist in lowering water levels in Loch Leven and its nearby wetlands.
The creek was further modified in the 1950’s to a wider and possibly deeper depth. These changes are likely partially responsible for the loss and alteration of wetland systems around and near Loch Leven (Figure 4).
By 1958, improved ditching and draining systems were in place that were effective in permanently lowering and altering lake levels and wetlands in and around Loch Leven (Figure 5).
By 1972, additional ditching and draining had further eliminated local lakes and wetlands. The most recent ditching can be observed with sand mounds along the recently excavated channels (Figure 6).
There have been numerous references to water historically flowing from Loch Leven to Wolf Branch Sink. However, higher upland ground elevations east of Loch Leven would naturally prevent this transfer of surface water under most conceivable events. A small ditch was cut through the upland barrier between the two waterways prior to 1941. This small connection became much less likely to convey water and inoperable with the lowering of lake levels and improvements to the flow to Lake Joanna (Figure 7).
By 1972, a second ditch was added to further convey water (Figure 8). The ditch did not appear to be excavated all the way into the waters of the lake.
By 1979, an area near the end of the ditch was filled preventing water from possibly exiting from the ditch (Figure 9).
It is staff recollection that the fill area in the ditch was a regulatory requirement because the new ditch was not permitted as required under the new rules.