The Lake Hancock Lake Level Modification Project involves replacing the P-11 Water Conservation Structure that was built in 1963. The new structure will allow the District to maintain higher lake levels, increasing the elevation from 98.7 feet above sea level to 100 feet (NGVD 29).
The proposed normal operating level of 100 feet was determined to be the approximate historical level of the lake before the area was mined for phosphate and the natural lake outlet deepened. The additional stored water will be released into the upper Peace River during dry periods to help achieve minimum flow requirements for the upper river from Bartow to Zolfo Springs.
The current structure is located on Saddle Creek in Bartow and is manually operated. The new structure will be remotely operated.
The District began evaluating the feasibility of raising the lake level in 2003. An engineering analysis was conducted to evaluate the potential benefits and impacts associated with raising the normal operating level of Lake Hancock from 98.7 to 100 feet.
In 2004, the District’s Governing Board authorized staff to proceed with the preliminary design and engineering to prepare a conceptual environmental resource permit application for the lake level modification project. The District began acquiring property around the lake to support the project and has 8,337 acres acquired or under contract.
In January 2006, the Board authorized staff, upon reaching agreement through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Polk County, to submit the conceptual ERP application. The Governing Board approved the MOA in July 2006 and the County approved the MOA in August 2006. The District submitted the conceptual ERP application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) on August 31, 2006 and FDEP issued the Conceptual ERP on June 14, 2007.
In September 2007, the Governing Board authorized staff to implement the Lake Hancock Lake Level Modification Project including the final design, permitting, and construction of the necessary improvements.
Construction of the P-11 structure replacement began in November 2011 and was completed in April 2013. All land acquisition needed to implement the project has been acquired. Design, permitting and construction for the five required conveyance improvement projects is complete.