Local News

Public hearings on minimum water levels

Anyone wishing to give their input on minimum water flows and levels for area lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers is invited to attend a public hearing at 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 4, in Bartow, by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The district's Bartow service office is located at 170 Century Blvd. The purpose of the meetings is to receive public input on a draft priority schedule for establishing minimum flows and levels, said Robyn Felix, the district's spokeswoman. "A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources and or the environment," her press release stated.
She recommended the Bartow meeting for residents, community groups and local government staff to take part in the scheduling. "We hold these meetings once a year to develop our priority list," said Felix. "It's a list that outlines the flows and levels for various lakes, rivers and streams. It's kind of a roadmap for developing minimum flows and levels." Felix said a La Nina has developed. "That means dryer than normal conditions in the winter and spring," she said. "In some areas lake levels have not recovered yet from four years of drought. Other than the Tampa Bay area lake levels are below average." A total of four public meetings have been scheduled. However, none are to be held in Highlands County. All meetings will be held in boardroom offices at 6 p.m., with a second on Monday, Oct. 4, at the district's Brooksville headquarters, 2379 Broad St. The last two meetings will be held Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the district's Tampa service office, 7601 U.S. 301 N.; and the district's Sarasota service office at 6750 Fruitville Road. Written comments are also welcomed and may be submitted by mail to 2379 Broad St., Brooksville, or by e-mail to Marty Kelly, the district's minimum flows and levels program director at Marty.Kelly@watermatters.org . Comments must be received no later than Oct. 15. For more information, contact Barbara Matrone at 1-800-423-1476, Ext. 4233 or Marty Kelly at Ext. 4236.

Highlands Today reporter Joe Seelig can be reached at 863-386-5834 or jseelig@highlandstoday.com