High-water conditions persist; Fish kill reported on Lake Panasoffkee

The Southwest Florida Water Management today updated its forecast for the area’s lakes.

The SWFWMD reported that the rains we’ve had in August 2019 have had an impact.

Fish had been killed on Lake Pasoffkee and on the Outlet River, as well. “This is a natural occurrence”, the district said, “caused by low oxygen levels from recent heavy rains, cloudy days, and high-water levels.”

Rainfall:

  • We’ve already received more than the historical average rainfall for August (8+ inches), and there’s still 13 days left to go this month.
  • A few areas have received more than 15 inches of rain so far this month.

Withlacoochee River:

  • River flows and water levels remain high, in response to recent rains.
  • Oxygen levels are very low in the river, due to these high flows, which could naturally cause fish kills.
  • Here is a quick snapshot of recent trends:
    • Green Swamp to Hwy 50 (Ridge Manor) – river levels are currently dropping
    • Nobleton though Wysong – river levels are currently cresting (peaking)
    • Hwy 44 through Hwy 200 – river levels are still rising
  • These trends are based on recent rains; additional rainfall can increase flows and river levels further.

Tsala Apopka Chain-of-Lakes:

  • Structures remain open to help lower the Inverness and Hernando Pools, which reached their high guidance levels last week.
  • Our goal is to create a few inches of storage in the lakes, in anticipation of additional rainfall in the coming weeks.
  • Currently the Brogden Bridge and Bryant Slough structures are open releasing water from the Inverness Pool.
  • Also, the Van Ness and S-353 structures are open releasing water from the Hernando Pool.
  • Structures remain closed between the Withlacoochee River and Floral City Pool, which is also very high.
  • Opening these structures (near Trails End) would raise lake levels further but would have no impact on river levels which continue to rise from upstream flows.

Lake Panasoffkee:

  • You may be aware of a fish kill that is occurring on Lake Panasoffkee.
  • This is a natural occurrence, caused by low oxygen levels from recent heavy rains, cloudy days, and high-water levels.
  • Dead fish have also been spotted in the Outlet River.
  • Please call the FWC Fish Kill Hotline (800-636-0511) to report observed fish kills in your area.
  • Water levels on Lake Panasoffkee continue to slowly rise from naturally high inflows caused by recent rains.
  • There are no water control structures that can impact current lake levels.
  • The lake is now 8 inches higher than it peaked after Hurricane Irma (2017) and only 7 inches lower than the flooding that occurred from the 2004 hurricanes.
  • The Wysong Structure has been fully lowered for the past couple weeks and has had no impact on high lake levels this summer.
  • Treatment and removal of hydrilla is still planned for later this week on the Outlet River.
  • Hydrilla treatment is not typically performed this time of year because of low oxygen levels, but we are looking at all options to increase outflows and help lower lake levels.

Lake Rousseau and the Lower Withlacoochee River:

  • Over the weekend, northwest Citrus and southern Levy Counties have received upwards of 10+ inches of rainfall.
  • This rainfall, along with high tides, have caused isolated flooding in low-lying areas near the coast.
  • The Inglis Main Dam remains open, diverting excess river flows to the Barge Canal.
  • Lake Rousseau levels have been lowered about 5 inches near the Dam, to help keep river levels at Dunnellon from rising further.
  • We don’t anticipate lowering Lake Rousseau more than this, unless significantly higher flows occur on the river upstream.
  • The structures on Lake Rousseau can only impact river levels upstream through Dunnellon, but during higher water times, that impact is minimal.

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