News-Sun photo by CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY In May, Lake Jackson's water level was so low, a small dog could run where the water had been knee deep before. The level fell even more over the summer.
published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Level of Lake Jackson dropping
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Lake Jackson water levels are falling again, after having made gains in October, which had above average rainfall. Aquifer levels also are falling.
Part of the problem stems from two severe droughts that depleted the aquifer in the last 14 years.
"Only two dry seasons -- 1998-1999 and 2003-2004 -- have actually been above historic average," Gabe Margasak, with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, wrote in a press release issued Nov. 1. By contrast, there have been 10 below average dry seasons since 1998.
Before a lake level can rise, the aquifer must rise first.
According to SWFWMD figures, at the end of February, aquifer levels for this area were in negative numbers, 2.31 feet below zero. Near the end of March, the aquifer had dropped another 68 inches.
Between the end of April and the end of May the aquifer rose 28 inches, although it was still below zero -- the minimum normal range, which is between 0 and 8 feet.
By the end of June, the aquifer had reached positive numbers, standing at 1.11 feet. But boat houses on Lake Jackson remained high and dry all summer.
Progress continued in September. By the end of the month the aquifer level rose to 2.65 feet.
The rains in October improved the situation even more, lifting the aquifer to 3.05 feet.
Then the rain stopped and the aquifer again started to recede.
As of Nov. 15, it stood at 1.87 feet, still in positive numbers, but only slightly more than half its high mark two weeks earlier.
This is because the dry season has begun. For example, in the first two weeks of November less than a quarter of an inch of rain fell in the area. With so little rain the aquifer will probably drop further. This means Lake Jackson water levels may drop further as well.
Clell Ford, the county's lake manager, said the situation right now is normal for this time of year, as levels fluctuate from wet to dry seasons. "On Oct. 1," he said, "the lake was 98.58 feet above sea level. That's only down two or three tenths (of an inch)."
Not everyone believes the dry weather is the reason for the loss of water. Many people worry water is escaping into the Jackson-Josephine Canal, particularly at the spillways. They point to the fact other lakes do not lose water at such a rapid rate.
"They have worked on the canal spillways," James Dean, who lives on Little Lake Jackson, said Tuesday. "The water is going down more slowly, but still leaks out."
He is extremely impatient, however, about the lack of progress in connecting Lakes Jackson and Little Jackson. "There have been grant applications to work on the problem," Dean said, "but they could take until May or June. For years, the lake taxes have stayed the same, but for years we haven't been able to access Lake Jackson."
Well let's see........ (by: Beerbelly - 11/21/2012)
Let's review the facts. The rains quit and the lake water level starts dropping. Hmmmmmmmmmmm ???????? The answer has got to be here somewhere.
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