Updated Jan. 15, 2012 to include Fox Orlando interview link to their website.
Updated Jan 9, 2012 after the meeting: The Lake County public hearing of the St. Johns River Water Management District meeting was held Jan. 5th to discuss water level management practices affecting Lake County lakes. Our update with conclusions and our recommendations are in section PS8 at the bottom of this document. (Several updates added to section PS8 with the latest on Jan 9th). Links to local media articles on this meeting also added to section PS8 thru 1/9. The ST. John's Board is having a Baord meeting in Palatka on Jan. 10th to decide their actions, and we will post a NEW article.
Tavares, FL - Dec. 27, 2011 (Updated 4pm, Jan. 4th) - Water levels in Lake Dora & downstream lakes are dropping due to actions to completely shutoff water flow to them from Lake Apopka. Alien CAT People working at the St. Johns River Water Management District started shutting off water on Dec. 8th from Lake Apopka to Lake Dora and all Lake Countians should get organized. (True, except for the CAT reference (:-)) )
A public hearing for Lake Countians has been scheduled for Jan. 5th at 5pm in the Mission Inn in Howie-in-The-Hills and details are below in the PS1 section. We encourage all readers concerned about dropping water levels in Harris Chain lakes to attend the meeting. You will see a presentation from the staff of the St. John's River Water Management District about why they have turned off all water flow from Lake Apopka to Lake Dora and other Lake County lakes. Our observations are that water has dropped 5 inches in four weeks, and is dropping about 1 inch per week. You can also give public input on your concerns about lower lake water levels - not being able to get boats out of docks, dropping property values, and not being able to get a boat through the Dora Canal. Please be there!!
We expect numerous attendees from Lake Griffin, plus members of the Sunnyland Antique & Classic Boat Society plus members of the Triangle Boat Club.
This is an update on the issue of water flow being shutoff as pf December 8th, 2011 from Lake Apopka to Lake Dora and downstream lakes by the St. Johns District staff , when hardly any of them or members of their board live in Lake County. There also was no previous public hearing for Lake Countians that we know of. Lake Griffin has suffered dramatic drops in water levels, and Lake Dora is down by about 5-6 inches in the last 4-weeks since the water shutoff was implemented (my estimate based upon the canal I live on). After the Lake Apopka Restoration Summit on December 14, the staff agreed to increase the outflow of water into Lake Griffin but NOT allow water to flow INTO the Harris Chain from Apopka, resulting in a constantly dropping water level.
Originally, we thought it was Lake Apopka area environmentalists doing this to Lake County, but a FiscalRangers investigation found that the St. Johns Water District staff are really CAT PEOPLE aliens who hate water. Thus they have apparently initiated a plan to shutoff all water flow to Lake County lakes so they don't have so many lakes. (OK, for those in Apopka, the Wekiva area or in the Ocala forest, that reference to Alien CAT People is a joke).
We covered the issue initially on THIS post along with news for a recent Lake County Board meeting where the water level issue was discussed on the meeting agenda. About 50 people from Lake Griffin, and about 20 from local boat clubs showed up. Commissioner Leslie Campione spearheaded a discussion and allowed public input. The Lake County Board does NOT have authority over water levels but can use their bully pulpit to engage staff and Board members of the St. Johns River Water Management Distrist. She agreed to contact them, and also write a letter on behalf of the board to request increasing water flow to Lake Dora and downstream lakes, including Lake Griffin, which is very low. She also announced the public hearing below.
There will be a public hearing organized by the St. Johns Water District staff in Howie-in-the-Hills on Jan. 5th at 5pm at the Mission Inn to get "public input" on the water cutoff, and details are in the PS1 section below.
You can verify Lake County water levels, discharge rates and rainfall levels for each Lake HERE at the St. Johns webpage that tracks it. Click on the links for the "Upper Ocklawaha River Basin. The "Burrell Spillway" rates are the flow of water OUT of Lake Eustis to Lake Griffin. Please bring your "NO CAT PEOPLE" poster to halt this dastardly feline plot by the ST. Johns Water District to lower Lake County lake water levels. However, I live on a canal off Lake Dora and it seems to me that water levels have dropped about 5 inches, more than the charts show. However, that could be that the "regulated" water levels vary by month of the year, while I am looking at an expected average water level marker.
HERE is the website page for the recent Lake Apopka Summit which was mostly to discuss Lake Apopka restoration efforts, but where the issue of dropping water levels was discussed. St. Johns staff appeared disguised as real people, but we now know they are water hating Alien CAT People ((:-)). Now they have all the presentations from the earlier Lake Apopka Summit on the webpage, so you can download them from HERE.
Update Jan. 4: Lake County Commissioner told me she visited the St. Johns offices today and also presented Lake County concerns to them. She will be at the Jan. 5th meeting.
Quick - forward this email to other Lake County boat owners, Griffin Lake residents, waterfront owners and other residents and businesses concerned about dropping Lake water levels in Lake County. Encourage them to attend the Jan. 5th Public Hearing. Do this before the Orlando Sentinel's columnist discovers our research regarding CAT People aliens running the St. Johns Water District and writes a story on it.
Bookmark THIS page for updates on the upcoming meeting and results which will be posted here in the sections below.
FiscalRangers.com Opinion (read the PS sections below for more background)
- The water level shutoff was done without any public hearings in Lake County that we know of.
- No Lake County agency has authority over water levels, not even the County Board or Lake County Water Authority. The effect is that the St. Johns District, headquartered in Palatka, FL follows the UN Agenda 21 tactic of creating "regional" groups that can't be directly sanctioned by local voters and they are out of our voter control, but yet they control our water levels. There is one vacancy on the Board for an area including western Lake County, but it may take 2 months yet for Gov. Scott to make the appointment, and not necessarily a Lake County citizen.
- Lake Griffin residents visited the recent Apopka Restoration Summit and lobbied to get a bigger water flow, which was APPROVED, thus increasing water flow OUT of Lake Dora, Harris & Eustis, while still not allowing any inflow of water, thus levels will drop faster.
- The Federal Corps of Engineers or the St. John's staff (not clear on this) establishes standard water flow rates, but the St. Johns staff shutoff ignores those standards, and an explanation how they could ignore the water flow standards and implement the shutoff is needed.
- The shutoff also seems motivated by a Lake Apopka support group and possibly environmentalists in the Water District, without any consideration of the effect on Lake County water levels, property values, economic development effects, etc.
- The St. Johns Staff are really Alien Cat People who don't want Lake County to have any lake water. (snark, snark!)
- The recent Lake Apopka Restoration Summit (see below) and possibly the upcoming hearing may use the UN Agenda 21 tactic of developing "consensus" using a modified "Delphi" decision making technique actually designed to only present and obtain feedback leading to a staff pre-determined result. Delays in public notices can be used to reduce opponents knowledge of the meeting, while favored groups will receive advance notice. (as of Dec. 29, the St Johns District still has not issued a promised press release or agenda on the Jan 5 meeting). No actual VOTE of attendees will be taken on an issue, but the organizers will later announce a "consensus" was reached to move forward on the pre-determined objective. Watch for that "consensus building technique" in any public meeting you attend. Watch for experts that only support one favored approach, and not alternatives. Watch for no formal assembly of issues and recommendations before the group, and a vote. Intead, later, only favored viewpoints will be documented and opposition information will be excluded. This technique, in my opinion, was used to develop some land planning components in the Comp Plan for Lake County. The issue of Agenda 21 or "Visioning" meetings to announce "public consensus" on pre-determined outcomes has been identified in numerous articles posted regarding the Obama administration and socialist tactics. Watch for those tactics.
- It is possible some actions are needed to improve water quality and sound water flow management can be one of those tactics. But Lake Countians need that information clearly presented so they can decide, not environmentalists or District staff. That is the difference between freedom of choice and government defined outcomes.
Lake Countians need to attend the meeting, provide public input, then afterwards send their opinions to the St. Johns River Water Management District Board, local Lake County Commissioners, and other agencies. AFTER the meeting, we will update the PS8 and PS9 sections below with info on the meeting results and who to send your recommendations to.
FiscalRangers AT comcast DOT com
Below are additional background facts and details on the Jan. 5th meeting:
Several articles have also been published in the Daily Commercial and Orlando Sentinel Lake section.
PS1: Here is an update on the public hearing next week on January 5th. I just received this from the Executive office, and apparently the press release will go out soon, so put this meeting on your schedule:
Information on the January 5 meeting: (from SJRWMD Sr. Assistant Marji Hightower)
SJRWMD Projects and Land Business Meeting:
Mission Inn Conference Center
10400 County Road 48
Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida 34737
5:00 PM to 7:30 pm
UPDATED 4pm, Dec. 29, the official St. Johns District press release about the Jan 5th meeting was finally issued after 4pm HERE. They also updated and posted a "Get the Facts" page HERE on "Discharges Changed on Harris Chain of Lakes". Fiscal Rangers also confirmed the meeting IS scheduled in a room that will hold 200 people at the Mission Inn, so plan to be there if you are concerned about water levels. (updated Dec. 29)
There is NO separate agenda for the Jan. 5th meeting. Public input will be limited to 3 minutes per person, and spokeman for organizations can have up to 5 minutes.
PS2: Links to SJRWMD website:
Main website: http://floridaswater.com/
http://floridaswater.com/governingboard/representationmap.html - shows Board areas
http://floridaswater.com/governingboard/boardmembers.html - shows Board members and bios - their pictures are disguised as "normal people" and not their REAL Alien CAT People images (:-)).
For additional information about Lake Apopka, contact David Walker, basin program manager for the St. Johns Water District, at (386) 329-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
PS3: Update Dec. 29 on vacant St. Johns District Board position - Currently there is a vacancy on the Board of the St. John's water district, and it is for the "area" that includes western Lake County, including Lake Dora, Harris & Eustis. Lake County needs a representative on that Board. Nominations have already been submitted by local Lake County organizations. I talked to Gov. Scott's Appointment office today, Dec. 29, and was told some applicants have already been excluded and others are "in the pipeline", including one favored by many Lake County residents. The limiting factor is getting time with Gov. Scott to discuss the applicants and for him to talk to them. They estimated a decision will be made in January or February, but cannot be more specific. (Added Dec. 29)
PS4: Minimum Input on the Water Cutoff was Provided by Lake Countians - We were told by a St. Johns representative that they had told Board members of the Lake County Water Authority as well as the Lake Harris Chain of Lakes Restoration Committee about the water cutoff, and not much resistance was encountered. It seems that the St. John's staff thought that just making presentations at those two groups was adequate effort to get input from Lake Countians. It is not, in our opinion.
You can read the minutes of the Oct. 19th, 2011 meeting HERE of the Lake County Water Authority (scroll down to page 4 and see section on "Temporary Changes in Management of Harris Chain of Lakes Levels"). The Board was told of the Lake County water level changes, but notice that there were staff recommendations to the Board, but the Executive Director recommendation was: "No action required. For information only" which means they didn't act on the recommendations or publicize the issue. I don't know if the issue received much publicity until the Lake Apopka Summit earlier this month when many vocal residents of Lake Griffin gave public input and word spread on the water shutoff. (added Dec. 29)
PS5: Standard "Natural" Water Flow rates from Lake Apopka to Lake Dora and other "downstream" lakes are defined by the Federal Corps of Engineers (need to clarify this - others say the St. Johns staff sets minimum & maximum levels) as the "regulated" levels, but the St. Johns staff apparenlty ignored or waived those standards in a "pilot study" by shutting off ALL water flow - so, their right to do so is questionable and needs explanation.
PS6: Was the Water Shutoff Due to Excess Influence of Lake Apopka Environmental Zealots or Real Estate Developers? Evidence exists that a Lake Apopka support group has pushed to increase the Lake Apopka levels to improve THEIR wetlands areas without considation for the downstream lake levels.
PS7: St. Johns webpage on the recent Lake Apopka Restoration Summit - Here is my comment I posted on that page today, Dec. 29, which may or may not be approved by them. If you go to this page above, then click the link to see the main Lake Apopka page, you can see attachments of presentations made at the meeting:
"This meeting was about the restoration of the lake (Apopka), but kicked off a bigger discussion about the right of the St. Johns staff to arbitrarily shut off natural water flow defined by the Corps of Engineers from Lake Apopka to Lake County, Lake Dora and other downstream lakes depending on that water flow. This summary here ignores the 50 or so people from Lake Griffin that protested the water shutdown. I cannot help notice that this meeting was held following the modified "Delphi Technique" used by environmentalists and UN Agenda 21 supporters to obtain local "consensus" by presenting pre-determined facts, organize and hear feedback, then ignore any negative questions, NOT hold any type of formal vote, and then announce a consensus was reached.
A formal vote is needed by all stakeholders, and "consensus" should be a referendum of all stakeholders, not a fixed meeting process to reach a staff determined goal. Lake Countians are tired of the St Johns staff and board arbitrarily making decisions without formal votes or representation by Lake County on your Board.
As of today, Dec. 29, the District still has not published the press release or agenda for the January 5th public hearing at the Mission Inn at 5pm. Does that mean only favored attendees will receive notice of the meeting to get another "consensus"?" ( Update: Magically, I received the press release and a VERY brief agenda statement after they got this comment and a link to this blog posting - vj)
Vance Jochim - FiscalRangers.com
PS8: This section PS8 added Jan. 6th, AFTER the public hearing:
The staff of the St. Johns River Water Management District gave a Powerpoint presentation on the current water level situation related to Lake Apopka, Dora, Eustis Harris (also known as the Superpond) & Lakie Griffin, current practices, reasons why they shutoff all water flow from Lake Apopka to Lake Dora and downstream lakes, and then presented five staff selected alternatives for discussion. Five members of the St. Johns Board plus their Executive Director and several staff were present also. They allowed all who wanted to provide public input for 3 minutes do so, and about 50 speakers gave public input (inlcuding myself), including some elected officials, city managers, representatives of the Sunnyland Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society, two other local boat owner groups, etc. All were concerned about lower water levels in all the lakes and questioned why no water was being transferred from the source lake, Lake Apopka, to the other lakes.
The St Johns staff will post their Powerpoint soon, and you should be able to find it on this webpage: http://www.sjrwmd.com/lakeapopka/ .
Here is the Daily Commercial Article on the meeting - added Jan 8, 2012
Here is the Orlando Sentinel article about the Jan 5th meeting - published Jan. 9, 2012.
HERE is the link to the Fox Orlando 35 TV report by Tracy Jacim AFTER the Jan. 5th meeting with an interview of Riley Wardrip of the Sunnyland Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society. (added Jan. 15, 2012)
My observation of the staff presentation & public input is:
- Their focus on retaining all water in Lake Apopka is primarily a commitment to restoring Lake Apopka water "quality" by increasing water levels in Apopka to REDUCE the ratio of phosphorus in the water.
- The staff publicly stated, when asked, that that there was NO ECONOMIC ANALYSIS prepared to identify the economic problems downstream caused by the elimination of water flow to the Superpond. Thus their methods and priorities focus only on water quality and not economic effects.
- They base their standards of minimum and maximum water levels on OLD Corps of Engineers Data, and then claim they have power to ignore them to shutoff the water. As one speaker asked, "that is illegal" to alter water flow from the standards and the staff said they notified the Corps of Engineers, but did not have to seek their approval. This apparently is an unresolved issue of authority. And, are the water level standards defined to meet environmentalist expectations vs more reasonable expectations?
- During the "rainy season" of the year, the St. Johns staff will release more water and drop water levels in case heavy rains or hurricanes drop "too much" water in the lakes. However, speakers say that there has never been a situation where heavy rains or hurricanes caused water to overflow normal seawall levels. Several speakers questioned the need to release water based upon a varying "regulated" level during the rainy months. Why not HOLD the water to offset draugh and low rain times of the year, and the staff didn't really answer.
- People asked why the St Johns District or other organization have the authority and budget to clean all the logs out of the Dora Canal so boats can get through in low water seasons. I have been told there is some Federal environmental rule preventing dredging or alterations, but no one had an answer.
- Water levels could be retained at a higher level if more "water storage" facilities were created, such as the North Shore retention area of Lake Apopka, or a new project on Lake Harris. The staff talked about these, but didn't include the possible storage data in their forecasts. It seems to me and several speakers that adding water storage areas would help offset low water conditions in the dry months of the year. That was not part of the staff alternatives.
- Staff alternatives - in the earlier blog details above, I discussed the risk of staff using the Delphi technique favored by environmentalists to gain "consensus" but only for their own pre-selected actions. The cynic in me says this happened at this meeting. The staff gave a presentation showing their justifications and then listed five alternatives, all based upon only changing water flows. They listened to public input, but TOOK NO VOTE OF THOSE PEOPLE PRESENT. They also did not add or alter their alternatives to include the public's proposals to include better water storage methods or give a larger ranking to economic factors vs just environmental considerations.
- The Board did not make any decision - they will tour the lakes today, Jan. 6th, (who actually is giving the tour and bending their ear?) and then discuss the public feedback at the next Board meeting in Palatka next Tuesday. I will post another blog article when the results of that meeting are known.
Here is the Powerpoint shown at the meeting by the St. Johns District staff.
Here is a shorter Powerpoint shown by Charles Clark, board member of the Lake County water Authority. Download Charles Clark - Harris Chain Parity
FiscalRangers.com Conclusions & Recommendations:
- The St. Johns Board clearly knows more about Lake County concerns after yesterday's meeting with 300 showing up, in a standing room only room. They also should realize that economic impact concerns should have as much or more ranking as water quality issues when establishing water level management policies affecting Lake County lakes.
- The Board should implement option 4, which allows water to drain from Lake Apopka into Lake Dora, and from the Superpond into Lake Griffin. (Lake Griffin is really low). However, who knows if the staff recommended flow rates are appropriate? However, rather than just this one action, they need to ALSO need to take immediate action and establish recommended policies described below.
- The Board needs to give a much higher consideration to economic issues vs just environmentalist concerns when defining water flow policies for Lake County. They need an objective, professional economic analysis of the negative economic impacts on the Superpond and downstream Lake Griffin when water levels are low. That information should be given a 50% weighting when approving water level management actions.
- The Board needs to investigate all the "water level "regulated" and minimum and maximum water level standards" cited by staff which may be really old, and determine if changes are needed. They clearly need to examine whether a "regulated" level standard used to DRAIN water from the lakes in mid-year is really justified, when water RETENTION helps offset seasonal water level fluctuations. This should be part of their announced Board action. Why allow higher outflow during the rainy season when the water could be retained to offset dry periods?
-The Board needs to factor in all current and future water storage methods that would be used to offset the fluctuations in water levels between rainy and dry seasons. Improving water storage methods should have as much priority as water quality efforts. Doing so could result in "managed" acceptable water levels year around for all the lakes.
- The St Johns staff should take a leadership action in finding a way and funding clearing out the Dora canal of old logs and brush to reduce damage to boats trying to get through the canal in low water level times.
- Citizens in Lake County need to keep monitoring and questioning the St. Johns Board and staff about their practices. I recommend a public hearing for Lake County citizens every six months to ensure the District water management practices have visibility and the District keeps Lake County concerns and priorities in mind.
- Lake County leaders in the County Government, the Lake County Water Authority and the Lake Harris Restoration Council need to form a standing Lake County committee including boat owner groups, waterfront owner groups, water dependent business representatives, etc to monitor actions of the St. Johns River Water Management District to ensure we have a representative on the St. Johns Board, They need to have funding to publicize the events and get public input and become active in lobbying the St. Johns Board for actions that benefit Lake County.
- Lake County deserves a fixed representative spot on the St. Johns Board, and we shouldn't be split into "areas" where the Board representative is from a different County are area not part of the Harris Chain of Lakes. The St. Johns Board should be asked to redraw their Board member areas to create one for Lake County and the Harris Chain.
- If the St. Johns District Board continues to be unresponsive to these issues and concerns, Lake County leaders should consider asking Governor Scott to SPLIT the St. Johns District into a separate District just for the Harris Chain of Lakes, and ensure the new District's Board is made up on representatives from each affected lake area, rather than from some remote county or separate waterway.
This blog will now keep monitoring this action. I videotaped the entire meeting, but it is too big for uploading to the internet. Anyone who wants a copy on a DVD disc with five .AVI video files totaling 3.4gb should contact me. Additionally, you can get the official Board audio recording of the meeting by calling the St. Johns District offices in Palatka, asking for Sandy Bertram, District Clerk at (800) 451-7106. She can mail you a CD with the file on it.
PS9: After the Meeting, Send your Recommendations to THESE people and agencies:
To be filled in after the meeting by Jan. 7th. v