Water-Related News

SWFWMD approves plan to protect Peace River flow

Work to allow water managers to raise the level of Lake Hancock is completed, which means some landowners along the lake's shore and along Saddle Creek can now expect more standing water and the Peace River will be getting more water during dry periods.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board on Tuesday also approved plans to resume formal rulemaking to make sure future water supply projects don't undo the effects of the Lake Hancock project to restore minimum flows in the river.

"We're protecting what we've done," said board member Paul Senft of Haines City.

The Peace River Manasota Water Supply Authority is the only utility that withdraws water from the river, but Polk County officials have discussed tapping the river as part of an overall plan to supplement future water supplies.

Polk County Utilities Director Marjorie Craig said the new rules will give her and her staff an idea of what the limits would be on future withdrawals.

Swiftmud officials set minimum flows for the river at Bartow, Fort Meade and Zolfo Springs in 2002, but held off on completing formal rulemaking begun in 2006 until the Lake Hancock project was completed, said Randy Smith, program manager of the agency's Surface Water Improvement and Management program.

The new rules are expected to be in place by December.