News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS Citizens and scientists agree Lake Jackson's falling water level needs to be investigated. While the scientists said drought is the main culprit, local residents suspect more is involved than a lack of rain.
click any photo to view this story's photo gallery
published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Where does the water go?
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Jack Stroup Civic Center was filled to capacity Monday night with an audience of citizens owning property along Lake Jackson and Little Lake Jackson's shores.
The audience which, except for an occasional over-excited comment, was polite and patient, as it listened to representatives from government agencies concerned with water management.
Citizens were upset for two main reasons: Loss of the access to the lakes because the receding shoreline has left most boathouses high and dry; and the length of time it is taking to do something about the problem.
More than one speaker spoke to the point of paying high lakefront taxes, without the benefit of lakefront living.
Every property owner was incensed that boats can no longer pass under the U.S. 27 bridge at the entrance to Little Lake Jackson.
For example, Wendall Whitehouse, who has lived on the lake since 1962, said, "We used to ski under that bridge at 35 miles per hour. There's no reason that it can't be opened. Get DOT and the Corps of Engineers to do something. We want that bridge cleared, that's all." He received warm applause.
Others kept asking about the loss of water in general. They did not believe lack of rain was the only answer.
Dale Gillis, of the Lake Jackson Townhouses, said, "It's been a pretty good rainy season, but no matter how much rain, the lake only goes up a teensy weeny bit. Where does the lake level go? We only have an inch of water under our dock."
Alan Wildstein, who helped the meeting happen, said he just didn't understand. "After rainfall we see the water level is up," he said. "But, without rain the water drops. Why does it drop so quickly? Where is the water going? I don't know where."
Several speakers said stories have persisted for years that there is a crack in the hard pan lake bed, and that water is draining away through that.
Others blamed the Jackson-Josephine Canal. Everyone expressed frustration that studies have not been done, and the problems, however caused, are not being addressed. On this point the audience held firm. They wanted something done.
Lon Crow, a property owner on Lake Jackson, said, "I don't get the sense of concern about what's happening here."
Citizens also said Lake Jackson is too important to the city to be allowed to disappear. It is the crown jewel of the city, several individuals said.
State Representative Denise Grimsley and County Commissioner Don Elwell promised to follow up on the meeting. They agreed more study had to be done regarding seepage from the lake, and said they would get together to move a recovery process along.
Congressman Tom Rooney's district director, Stephen Leighton, attended the meeting on the congressman's behalf.
Making it clear this was not a situation for federal involvement, Leighton added Rooney was happy to serve as a broker, to ensure agencies get together and something is done.
"If something is broken, we have to fix it," Leighton said, then smiled, "We've probably gotten about 100 calls regarding this issue."
Lake levels (by: ecaubin - 9/20/2012)
It isn't just Lake Jackson, it is all the lakes in the area up to Lake Damon ,Lake Trout and Lake (Pithias) ? in Avon Park
Small Banner Ads