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Drought pushing Tampa Bay lake levels to extreme lows

The water level in St. Petersburg’s Mirror Lake has hit an extreme low because of the current drought.

STEFAN JAEGER | Times

The water level in St. Petersburg’s Mirror Lake has hit an extreme low because of the current drought.

Water levels at lakes around the city have hit an extreme low.

With only 1.4 inches of rainfall in April compared to a historical average of 2.78 inches Mirror Lake, Crescent Lake and the biggest of all, Lake Maggiore, have seen water constantly receding from the banks.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) last month recorded lake levels in the Tampa Bay area to be an average of 2.7 feet below of what it considers the bottom of the normal range, or twice as low as they were in 2008.

A year ago, lake levels were recorded at only 1.46 feet below normal.

"As far as we are concerned there is little we can do. Pray for rain maybe," said Robyn Felix, spokeswoman for Swiftmud.

"It's a natural thing given the drought we are going through. We've been missing about 30 inches of rainfall over the past three years."

The aquifers that hold underground water and the source of much of what we drink, took a beating as well.

Readings dropped from 3.08 feet in April 2008 to an average of minus 1.69 feet this year. The normal range is between 0 and 6 feet.

More than 80 percent of southwestern Florida's water supply comes from aquifers.

With the water so low on Lake Maggiore, Boyd Hill Nature Park attendants suggested that people walking along the banks keep an eye open for alligators.

"It's their mating season right now. We even caught one of them trying to leave the park last week," ranger Diane Richardson said.

Drought pushing Tampa Bay lake levels to extreme lows 05/05/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 5:38pm]
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