Lake Apopka Dam Will OPEN! – News Update From The Sunnyland Chapter ACBS

On Monday January 2nd we ran a story that we received from 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. (You can see that story by clicking here)

A Public Hearing was held on January 5th to give local residents and Sunnyland Chapter members the “Opportunity for Public Comment” on the water management issues directly to The Saint John River Water Management District (SJRWMD) at the Mission Inn Conference Center.

Here’s the following update we received from the Sunnyland Chapter ACBS on Wednesday, January 11th with some great news…

Lake Apopka Dam Will OPEN!
By Riley Warddrip

The Saint John River Water Management District (SJRWMD) reversed its recommendation and their Board voted to reopen the Apopka dam to allow water to flow into and through Lake Dora and the Harris Chain of Lakes. This action stops the draining of Lake Dora and the Harris Chain of Lakes. Water level should no longer be a problem for our 25th annual Sunnyland Antique and Classic Boat Festival at Wooton Park in Tavares, FL from March 22 to March 25, 2012. Come One…COME ALL!!!

Swigs at 2011 Sunnyland Boat Show - Photo Courtesy Miracle Photography

The following link will take you to the SJRWMD news release regarding the Board’s vote:
A special THANK YOU to Diane Heitman and Vance Jochim who also spoke and of course the 50+ Sunnyland members that supported us by attending the SJRWMD public forum last Thursday at the Mission Inn. We are sure the few local Sunnyland members that could not make it were with us in spirit! YOU MADE THE DIFFERENCE!!!

Temperance on Lake Dora 2011 - Photo Courtesy Miracle Photography

Several sources reported that 400+ local residents were at the meeting with over 40 speakers. We now know that the 50+ Sunnyland members that showed up wearing “Yellow Boat Show Committee Shirts” really stood out. Collectively we were a group that commanded attention.

Yesterday, Vance Jochim, Diane Heitman and I drove to Palatka to again speak briefly and observe the SJRWMD board vote on whether or not to reopen the Apopka Dam. The SJRWMD Board realized that adequate water depth results in more than just a positive environmental impact It also enables the largest Antique and Classic Boat Festival in the United States plus thousands of additional tourists from 3 countries, 28 states and the Virgin Islands.

After the vote to reopen the dam, one of the SJRWMD staff made a special point to say that the presence of Sunnyland (in our distinctive Yellow Boat Show Committee Shirts), combined with our presentations and follow-up documentation was critical to reversing the decision and reopening the Apopka dam.

Infatuation on Lake Dora 2011 - Photo Courtesy Miracle Photography

There was one other side benefit.… The lake level discussion got enough local attention that the Orlando Fox 35 television station allowed us 15 seconds of fame as we gave a plug for our Antique and Classic Boat Festival. If you’d like to see the video clip… this link will take you to it:

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Especially with this good news, we hope you will register right now for the 25th Annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival at: . Select “2012 Boat Show” in the main menu on the left side bar.

Riley Warddrip

Special thanks to Riley Warddrip and the Sunnyland ACBS team for all their hard work on this important water management issue and congratulations to everyone who participated. The effort certainly payed off!

We are looking forward to once again seeing all our Classic Boater friends at the 25th Annual 2012 Sunnyland Antique & Classic Boat Festival in March.


9 replies
  1. WoodyGal
    WoodyGal says:

    My thanks go out to Riley and the other Sunnyland members who took the time and made the effort to keep the Apopka damn open! Thanks to all.

  2. Victor Fabricius
    Victor Fabricius says:

    Great job Sunnyland. Where were the Chambers of Commerce for the local businesses or the lake homeowners associations that s/be fighting for the lake front owners who pay higher taxes because they’re on the water or would suffer reduced business activity or lower real estate values when lake levels are down. And not one representative on the water board from Lake County appointed by governor.

    We’re having the same problem on Lake Lanier where the dam is controlled by the Army Corp of Eng. that are mandated to release water for endangered species down stream. We’re down 11′ now and have been down as much as 19′ 2 yrs ago. Think you can sell a house in this economy with those lake levels? or want to run your boat when the water level is that far down? if you could put your boat in, ramps now don’t reach waters edge.

  3. The Central Scrutinizer
    The Central Scrutinizer says:

    Great job Sunnyland! Victor, I feel your pain. I live near Lake Lanier and we have a home up on Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee. That lake is controlled by TVA and they basically dump 8ft every year no matter what the level is.

  4. Jitterbug JS3 (Terry Ross)
    Jitterbug JS3 (Terry Ross) says:

    RILEY – thanks for being a major ring leader in this presentation to SJRWMD & getting the Sunnyland gang in attendance……. Diane Heitman & Vance Jochum huge proponents too on the cause- fabulous!!! AND – all the Sunnyland supporters there wearing the yellow boat show committee shirts! KUDDOS!!! That was the first time I thought those yellow shirts looked good!!! 🙂

  5. Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush-Captain Grumpy says:

    Nice job Sunnyland! very effective call to arms and a forcfull presentation stuck it to the man….

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