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DROUGHT: See how Charlotte County raises water levels in the South Gulf Cove canals

Opening the South Gulf Cove Lock allows hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to flow into the area's canals.
Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 07, 2024

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — As severe drought conditions continue in Charlotte County, some canals have seen a drop in water level from the lack of rain.

From June 3-7, Charlotte County Public Works opened the South Gulf Cove Lock during high tide to allow hundreds of thousands of gallons of water into the 55 miles of canals in the SGC area.

SGC Lock
Opening the SGC lock allows hundreds of thousands of gallons of water into the area's canals.

“A lot of people couldn’t get their boat off their boat lift, including myself,” said Jerry Berg, Second-Vice President of the area’s HOA.

Berg told Fox 4 that over the week the lock was opened he saw the water levels in the canals rise.

“It's been coming up steadily the whole week,” said Berg. “Right now it's probably up a little over a foot from where it was.”

Jerry Berg
Jerry Berg speaks with Fox 4's Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk at the SGC Lock.

According to Karlene McDonald, operations supervisor with Public Works, opening the lock is a common but temporary solution to low canal water levels. She said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection only permits the lock to be opened for five consecutive days.

“Every year we monitor the water levels around this time, when it reaches a predetermined depth, 32 inches below a designated gage we have in the South Gulf Cove area we seek permission from FDEP to open the lock and let water in for five consecutive days at high tide,” said McDonald.

Karlene McDonald
Karlene McDonald speaks with Fox 4's Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk about low water levels in the SGC canals.

The SGC lock is the only lock in Charlotte County, and was installed over 50 years ago. On June 5 it was briefly closed to boaters as a hydraulic cylinder was being replaced. It will be closed again on June 12 and June 19 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. as additional hydraulic cylinders will be replaced.