Kissimmee Basin Water Supply Plan

- By Bill Dwinell

I have been attending the monthly meetings of the South Florida Water Management District, representing Friends of Istokpoga, to provide input into the 20 year water supply plan for the Kissimmee Basin, which Lake Istokpoga falls in.

The final plan was presented to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board on April 13, 2000 and was adopted.

Over the year I have significantly influenced the direction and ultimate recommendations of the plan, but there are still many concerns with this plan. Most, if not all, of these concerns will require public hearings before any action is taken, so we will have the opportunity to further influence the final decisions at that time.
The 20 year plan actually only has detail recommendations for the next five years. Below are my notes for the comments I made to the Governing Board at their workshop on April 12, 2000:


My comments are addressed to the Istokpoga/Indian Prairie Basin portions of the Kissimmee Basin Water Supply Plan only.
The Plan has come a long way and many of the issues that were raised have been addressed
The Plan doesn't accomplish much, but does lay out a strategy for the Istokpoga/Indian Prairie Basin
My major concern is the structure of the plan leaves Lake Istokpoga seriously exposed if any element of the plan fails to happen as expected. One example is the recommendation to use the pumps at R-207 and R-208 as the primary source of water for the Indian Prairie Basin. This requires a number of issues to be resolved before this takes affect. If any of the issues is not resolved the plan is broken and Lake Istokpoga will be severely impacted.
The plan is based on 1-in-10 year drought, preceded with normal rainfall. Historical data for the Lake Istokpoga Basin do not substantiate this premise. And in fact indicate a more serious situation is more common. This will force water restrictions that are not addressed within the plan
With this in mind, the pumps proposed in Recommendation 4.1, should be permanent pumps, not temporary pumps and an operational plan should be developed that addresses their use during these drought conditions. The pumps could also come into play if any of the other plan items fall through or are delayed.
Strategy 5.0 calls for the lifting of the current moratorium on the use of additional surface water from the Indian Prairie Basin. The plan alludes to "several items that must be addressed before it will be lifted". A definitive list of these items should be added to the plan. Only two are currently listed. And the way the plan currently reads, the goal appears to be to lift the moratorium within two years, not resolve the issues then lift the moratorium.
I requested that the plan include a recommendation to place the CERP reservoir in an area that would help resolve some of the Istokpoga Basin water issues. This was agreed to by South Florida Water Management District representatives on 4/10/2000 in a meeting with Guy Maxcy, Highlands County Commissioner.
Navigation issues continue to crop up any time the water level drops below 39 feet, and gets worse as the level drops to 37.5 feet. I would like South Florida Water Management District to consider a project to dredge the canals in Lake Istokpoga in concert with the proposed drawdown. Deepening the canals would remove most of the negative public criticism that occurs whenever the lake levels drop. This would serve a multitude of problems, including increasing the storage capability within the lake, reduce impacts of low water levels, make periodic environmental lowering of the lake a more practical alternative and permit lake management to become a more environmentally sound process.
In closing, I would like to complement the Kissimmee Basin Water Supply Planning team for their hard work and their strong desire to work with the committee members to resolve open issues. I would urge the Governing Board to resolve the concerns addressed before you today, before approving this plan.

Other speakers included Clell Ford, Highlands County Lakes Manager, and Beacham Furse, FFWC.

The final version of the plan will be available around the end of May(2000). Call or write to the South Florida Water Management District if you would like a copy of the complete plan.