District opens Harris Bayou Spillway and Upper Ocklawaha control structures

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Heavy rainfall and seasonal lake level highs prompt district action

PALATKA, Fla., Dec. 30, 2019 — Recent heavy rainfall combined with seasonal high lake levels in the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin (UORB) has prompted the St. Johns River Water Management District to temporarily open the Harris Bayou Spillway and to maximize flows through three of the five water control structures on the chain of lakes.

The UORB consists of a series of controlled lakes including lakes Apopka, Dora, Beauclair, Eustis, Harris and Griffin. The district strives to maintain water levels at targets referred to as regulation schedules. When a lake level exceeds its regulation schedule, district flood control staff discharge water through water control structures.

Typical December rainfall for the area averages about 2.4 inches. However, the area has already received 4.7-5.7 inches of rain, mostly during the last two weeks.

In addition to higher lake levels caused by heavy rainfall, every lake in the UORB system is above its respective regulation schedule. At this time of the year, regulation schedules are at their highest point, about six inches higher than during the summer low point. Currently, three of the six lakes are near or over their desired maximum levels. In response to these conditions, the district is managing the lake flood control structures to prevent upstream flooding.

Flood protection is one of the district’s core missions. The Ocklawaha River Basin portion of the Four River Basins, Florida Project, is one of two federal flood control projects for which the district is the sponsor. For daily updates, visit district’s website at www.sjrwmd.com/data/hydrologic/#controlled.