The Southwest Florida Water Management District has released as much water out of Lake Tarpon as possible in anticipation of heavy rainfall and storm surge from Hurricane Ian.
The Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal is one of 84 water-control structures throughout the District’s 16-county area. The three-mile canal extends from the south end of Lake Tarpon and empties into Old Tampa Bay. The structure is designed to prevent salt water from entering Lake Tarpon during high tides and protects the lake’s freshwater ecology.
The District started lowering the lake Sunday afternoon and the lake is down seven inches below normal level. Further reductions are not feasible due to the lake level being only slightly above sea level. Predicted storm surge is expected to top the structure on Lake Tarpon by several feet and the District will have no way of stopping the storm surge from going into the lake. This could contribute to localized flooding.
Lake Tarpon is also expected to receive stormwater from the surrounding area and it may take several days following the storm before the District will be able to reduce the lake levels to an acceptable level.
District Structure Operations staff have been monitoring and operating water levels on all of the agency’s water-control structures around the clock.