State officials monitor water levels across Tampa Bay

8 On Your Side

TAMPA (WFLA) – Recent rainfall has left parts of the Tampa Bay area saturated. Right now, the Southwest Florida Water Management District has partially activated its Emergency Operations Center.

The district’s staffers are monitoring water levels in lakes and rivers, including the Withlacoochee River.

Jerry Mallams is the Chief of SFWMD’s Operations & Land Management Bureau.

“The predictions … are at the point where we think we can handle them,” he said.

“However, it wouldn’t take much change in that track to put a lot of rain, so we prepare for the worst.”

The district operates and maintains 81 water-control structures in a 16-county area.

There are 13 structures in Polk County and 33 in Hillsborough County.

The Tampa Bypass Canal is considered a critical water-control structure. It protects people in Tampa and Temple Terrace from flooding from the Hillsborough River. In the past, it has diverted billions of gallons of water from homes and businesses.

Officials have ensured all the structure’s gates are functioning properly in preparation for the hurricane season.

Jeff Bodry lives next to the Withlacoochee River.

“It does seem like a lot a lot of rain but it hasn’t bothered us,” he said.

According to SFWMD officials, the area along the river is vulnerable to flooding after recent high summer rainfall.

“Taking the kayaks down the river,” said Bodry, “We see where a lot of people have had severe flooding in their yards.”

Bodry has boarded up his home in preparation for this hurricane season.

District officials say this saturated area is not in Dorian’s path right now.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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