Call to Action: Jan 5th Regarding Public Hearing on Lake Dora and Harris Chain Water Levels

Sunnyland Antique & Classic Boat Show 2011

A few days before the Christmas Holiday we received an urgent e-mail from our friends at the Sunnyland Chapter ACBS in regards to potential reduced water levels in Lake Dora and related Harris Chain lakes, and what impact this could have for local boaters in terms using and navigating the lakes. Also, the possible impact this could have in regards to the upcoming 2012 Sunnyland Antique & Classic Boat Show in March.

Then, on December 30th we received a further update from the Sunnyland
Chapter asking chapter members and surrounding area residents for their support – “A Call To Action.” So if you live or are wintering in central Florida this week, and are not aware of the current water management issues, please see the following.

First, for some background on the issue, here’s an excerpt from the e-mail we recieved from the Sunnyland Chapter on December 20th, 2011…

Boat owners & Lake County residents are asked to take action later this week to help STOP a local government agency from reducing water levels in Lake Dora and related Harris Chain lakes.

Remember about 4-years ago when the water levels in Lake Dora were so low that many local members could not get their boats out of the docks, and many boats could not go through the Dora canal? Well, it might happen again, unless you help take action.

The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) decided recently to STOP allowing water to flow into Lake Dora and related lakes from Lake Apopka. Before Christmas, one Sunnyland member said that Lake Dora water levels have ALREADY dropped TWO inches in just 17 days. (And now it is reported that lake levels have dropped over FIVE inches.) One cited reason is a Lake Apopka activist group wants to restrict water outflow to Lake Dora in order to build marshland water levels in Lake Apopka without concern for other lakes that depend on Lake Apopka natural water flow..

Shutting off the water flow to Lake Dora will result in lower water levels, reducing ability to navigate the Dora canal or for many waterfront owners, low water levels will reduce their ability to get their boats out of their docks. That is what happened four years ago, and I encourage you to cover the issue more fully, especially that the St. Johns Water District is NOT based in Lake County, and seems to have made the decision without any concern on the effect on Lake Dora, Lake Eustis, Lake Harris, and Lake Griffin.

And here’s the urgent e-mail we received from the Sunnyland Chapter on December 30th, 2011 with the following update…

Important Information for Sunnyland Members:

After substantial effort (especially by Vance Jochim) the St. John’s River Water Management District (SJRWMD) just today (Dec. 30th) communicated the “Opportunity for Public Comment” to be Thursday, January 5, 2012, 5:00 p.m. — Projects and Land Committee business meeting at the Mission Inn Conference Center, 10400 County Road 48, Howey-in-the-Hills, FL 34737. We have confirmed that the meeting room will hold a minimum of 200 persons and we know Lake Griffin will have over 50 person in attendance lobbying the transfer of Lake Dora water level to Lake Griffin. That transfer of water could severely impact the success of Sunnyland’s 25th Annual Lake Dora Antique and Classic Boat Festival.

Vance and I are asking you to immediately communicate a Sunnyland “Call To Action” to as many Lake County boaters as possible to wear our yellow boat show committee shirts, attend the January 5th SJRWMD meeting and support our objection to the continued closure of the Lake Apopka natural water flow as well as the proposed re-opening of the Burrell Water control structure which would further lower Lake Dora. I will continue to refine the attached comments that I presented at the Lake County Commissioner’s meeting for presentation to SJRWMD January 5th.

In preparation, we encourage all Sunnyland members to read the links below in the email from Malissa Dillion but pay particular attentions to item #10 on the first link http: // In that first link, be sure to click on the #10 to get to page two of the supporting “Discussion”. To make it easier, here is a direct link to that supporting “Discussion” document: This referenced supporting document outlines the “Discussion” SJRWMD will lead at the January 5th meeting. That “Discussion” specifically states the following:
(My personal comments are in Bold Print inside the parentheses)


Subsequent to the November 2011 board action and implementation of the identified reductions in low-flow discharges that began in early December, the trend in lake level decline seems to have leveled off. (Actually, in December alone Lake Carlton and thus Lake Dora have now lost five inches of water depth)

However, District staff have continued to receive comments and requests for further actions to increase the water level in Lake Griffin, in particular. These requests have come not only from people living around Lake Griffin, but also from Lake County Water Authority and Lake County Board of County Commissioners. These comments point out that Lake Griffin is further below its minimum desirable level than Lakes Harris, Eustis, Beauclair, and Dora are below their minimum desirable levels. Some of these comments (primarily 50+residents of Lake Griffin) propose that the District make significantly greater discharges from the Burrell Water control structure at a magnitude far exceeding low-flow releases (which controls Lake Dora water level) until water levels in Lakes Harris, Eustis, Beauclair, and Dora are lowered and the water level in Lake Griffin is raised to the point that the all lakes are at the same distance below their respective minimum desirable levels.

Staff recommends that before any such lake-level equalization action is taken, the Board should first hear public comment from persons interested in the health of, and access to, all the lakes that would be affected. An opportunity for such public comment is scheduled at the Projects and Land Committee Meeting on January 5, 2012 in Howeyin-the-Hills.

If you have any questions or suggestions please email Riley Warddrip

3 replies
  1. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    Perhaps all the waterfront owners should incorporate and petition for an agreement that reduces their property tax obligation 10% for every inch of lake level below the norm for the months affected, citing reduced value due to restricted access to the lake…:)

  2. The Central Scrutinizer
    The Central Scrutinizer says:

    Interesting to see this type of thing happens in other states. We here in the Atlanta area have been in a water battle for years with US ACOE, FL, and AL over the water from the Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier. My lake, which is Lake Chatuge in N GA/NC has a similar issue with TVA. Water falls in GA. Flows into the Hiawassee River and into Lake Chatuge. TVA releases it to the Tennessee River every year starting in August. They lower it by at least 8ft every year. Very annoying when you have to start planning to remove your boat in September.

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