I Lawton Chiles
) FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES s.Bete of Srte
Marjory Stoneiman Douglas Building Attorney General
A 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard Gerad Lewis
virgIa .wetaren allahassee, Florida 32399 State Comptrller
eethe Director Tn Gallagher
/I Bob Crawford
October 21, 1992 Commaioner of Agriculture
Commissioner of Education
Mr. L. M. "Buddy" Blain
Blain & Cone, P.A.
202 Madison Street
Tampa, Florida 33602
SUBJECT: Kissimmee River Water Boundary Review
Dear Mr. Blain:
We are presently reviewing the location of several stage duration
elevation locations along the Kissimmee River. We plan to
correlate this information with transects that the South Florida
Water Management District will run in the near future and meander
lines run during the original federal government survey of
When complete, this information will be available to you and
other interested parties.
As you requested last Friday, I am transmitting with this letter
the 1976 Bishop and Schneider Report on the ordinary high water
line of the River. Also included is the Bishop & Schneider
Report on the ordinary high water line of Lake Kissimmee.
Terry Wilkinson, Chief
Bureau of Survey and Mapping
Division of State Lands
cc: Ms. Virginia B. Wetherell
Mr. Percy W. Mallison
Ms. Diana Dartland
Law Eforcement Marine Resore Recreation and Parks
Resource Management State Lands
Administration Beaches ad Shores
A STUDY OF THE HIGH WATER LINES OF
SOME FLORIDA LAKES
E. W. BISHOP
A TENTATIVE CLASSIFICATION OF
E. W. BISHOP
FLORIDA BOARD OF CONSERVATION
RANDOLPH HODGES, Director
DIVISION OF WATER RESOURCES
A. O. PATrrESON, Director
sGr- -%L t^ d- Ll',u
tBe period of record, the control for V lake was a
sand bar in the outlet. Two profile sections were sur-
veved on February 3, 1966. The lake stage at the time
of'the surveys was 71.16 feet above mean sea level.
Profile section 1 (Figure 37) was surveyed on the
>est side of the lake in the NEL, SW% sec. 30, T. 35S.,
7R. 29E. The high water line based on the landward
termination of stratified beach deposits is 72.1 feet
above mean sea level.
Profile section 2 (Figure 38) was surveyed on the
east side of the lake in the NW1, NW' sec. 34, T. 35S.,
R. 29E. The high water line based on the landward
termination of stratified beach deposits is 72.03 feet
above mean sea level.
The high water line on Lake Josephine is 72.1 feet
above mean sea level. During the period from Jan-
uary, 1947 to September, 1964, the lake has stood
above the high water line 25 percent of the time, indi-
cating that the lake has been permanently raised. For
the stage-duration curve, see Figure 39.
LAKE JUNE.IN.WINTER Highlands County
Lake June-in-Winter has a surface area of 5.72
square miles and a drainage area of 44.0 square miles.
Since March, 1955, the lake level has been controlled
by a sheet pile, stop-log control in Steams Creek. Two
profile sections were surveyed and are included in
Profile section 1 (Figure 40) was surveyed February
, 1966, on the northwest side of the lake in the NW},
9 sec. 28, T. 36S., R. 29E. The lake stage at the
ime of the survey was 74.69 feet above mean sea
level. The high water line based on the landward
termination of stratified beach deposits is 75.4 feet
above mean sea level.
Profile section 2 (Figure 41) was surveyed February
26,1966, on the southeast side of the lake in the NWV,
NEI sec. 11, T. 37S., R. 29E. The lake stage at the
time of the survey was 74.69 feet above mean sea level.
The high water line based on the landward termination
of stratified beach deposits is 75.5 feet above mean
The average of the two determinations of the high
water line for Lake June-in-Winter is 75.45 feet above
mean sea level. During the period from April, 1945 to
September, 1964, the lake stood at or above the high
water line about 6% percent of the time. For the
stage-duration curve, see Figure 42.
LAKE KERR Marion County
Lake Kerr has a surface area of approximately four
square miles and a drainage area of about 60 square
miles. The lake has no surface outlet. The profile"
section (Figure 43) was surveyed September 14, 1965,
on the south side of thl e 330 feet west of the U. S.
Geological Survey water-sage recording station in the
NM sec. 26, T. 13S., R. 25E. The lake stage at the time
of the survey was 25.86 feet above mean sea level.
The high water line based on the landward termination
of stratified beach deposits is 25.25 feet above mean
sea level. During the period from April,-1936 to De-
cember, 1951, and from January, 1956 to September,
1965, the lake stood above the high water line 16 per-
cent of the time. For the stage-duration curve, see
KINGSLEY LAKE- Clay County
Kingsley Lake has a surface area of 2.54 square miles
and a drainage area of 6.84 square miles. The outlet
of the lake has a fixed concrete weir with an average
crest elevation of about 175 feet above mean sea level.
The profile section (Figure.45) was surveyed October
4, 1965, on the south shore .of the lake in the NE},
NE; sec. 28, T.6S., R. 23E. The lake stage at the
time of the survey was 176.15 feet above mean sea
level. The high water line based on the highest zone
of beach stratification is at 177 feet above mean sea
level. During the period from April, 1947 to Septem-
ber, 1964, the lake surface stood at or above the high
water line five percent of the time. For the stage-
duration curve, see Figure 46.
LAKE KISSIMMEE Polk County
Lake Kissimmee has a surface area of 54.2 square
miles, and a drainage area of 1,604 square miles. Dur-
ing the period of record used in this study, the lake
had no artificial control The profile section (Figure
47) was surveyed March 22, 1966, -on the southwest
side of the lake in the NW' sec. 30, T. 30S., R. 31E.
The lake stage at the time of the survey was 53.28 feet
above mean sea level. The high water line based on
the landward termination of a zone of very carbo-
naceous lake deposits is 53.75 feet above mean sea
level. During the period from October, 1942 to Sep-
tember, 1957, the lake stood above the high water line
nine percent of the time. For the stage-duration curve,
see Figure 48.
LAKE LETTA Highlands County
Lake Letta has a surface area of 0.74 square miles,
and a drainage area of 15.6 square miles. The lake is
controlled by a small concrete dam with removable
boards. The profile section (Figure 49) was surveyed
March 2, 1966, on the southwest side of the lake in the
SEL, NE!' sec. 1, T. 34S., R. 28E. The lake stage at
the time of the survey was 99.66 feet above mean
sea level. The high water line based on the landward
termination of a zone of beach stratification is 100.6
___.. ........... ... A^ ssHirrne_
*. A: Artz, v x, arbx L cO -.i ,
. ...... b -ac"..O
.. ..Sad, quartz, tan to gray, fairly
ve :ls.ortdc aver& grair. -i2e
:-- -- .--- -- -
. .. ..
.'7 W. <-,.,, ri --t ,,; ,-.- ,( ...... ...
.-- i .-" -l-- .. .- ..--- -
; : I ..: .. T "
. ,.- . .. .- .- ...i. )-
Figure 47. Shoreline Profile, Lake Kissimmee, Polk County.
S \. RECORD USED: Daily averages, October 1942
-to September 1957
i 55 I
53 Bigh WatJ Line
0 10 20 30 4C 50 60 70 80 90 100
PERCENT OF TIME
Figure 48. Stage-Duration Curve, Lake Kissimmee, Polk County.
_r l .^y i.
;~3s=q;.c~-~.,~yc~-L'-~.~r-rK.~uti~iC~~7T.M -"T T:-. --
PRE-REGULATION ORDINARY HIGH WATER ELEVATIONS ALONG THE
KISSIMMEE RIVER: A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION
Douglas L. Schneider
Bureau of Coastal and Land Boundaries
Ernest W. Bishop
Bureau of Geology
December 14, 1976
The subject of this report is the determination of ordinary
high water elevations, such as existed prior to the onset of
regulation in 1964, at selected sites on the Kissimmee River.
From the determined elevations, ordinary high water elevations
can be calculated by proration for the entire length of the
Kissimmee River from Lake Kissimmee to Lake Okeechobee. If
necessary, further studies can refine the ordinary high water
elevations along the river by determinations at additional points.
When Florida was admitted to the Union, the State was
granted title to the submerged lands beneath navigable rivers.
The legal boundary between sovereignty submerged lands owned by
the state and uplands susceptible to private ownership is the
ordinary high water line. In 1881, the State of Florida Trustees
of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund entered into a contract
with Hamilton Disston et al., to drain and permanently to re-
claim for agriculture lands east of the Peace River including
those adjacent to the Kissimmee River. Therefore, the boundary
abutting the Kissimmee River in the state conveyances made in
the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was intended to
be the post-drainage ordinary high water line. Since Florida
courts recognize the ordinary high water line as ambulatory in
character, any lowering of the water level of the Kissimmee
River since the Disston drainage operation would be considered
reliction and would alter the line to lower elevations. There-
fore, the ordinary high water line as it existed before the on-
set regulation is the one of interest in determining the extent
of state ownership prior..to the channelization of the river.
Actually, the Kissimmee River is generally .believed to have been
in an unaltered natural state prior to channelization.
Three sites were investigated along the length of the
Kissimmee River: south of Structure S-65, at Fort Kissimmee
and at S.R. 70. The first site is located where Lake Kissimmee
greatly narrowed to form the Kissimmee River proper; the second
40.5 miles upstream from the mouth of the channelized river
between Structures S-65A and S-65B; the third 1.6 miles upstream
from S-65E and 9.7 miles upstream from the mouth. The results
found at the first site'should describe not only the pre-regula-
tion ordinary high water elevation for the beginning of the
Kissimmee River proper but'also that of Lake Kissimmee. Both
J d- i .ll I
authors, Bishop (1967) and Schneider (1976), have made previous
studies of the pre-regulation ordinary high water elevation of
On September 14-15, 1976, field work related to the ordi-
nary high water determinations was done on the Kissimmee River:
the sites south of Structure S-65 and at Fort Kissimmee were
visited the first day and the site at S.R. 70 the second. Be-
cause of a problem with the level data, the site south of
Structure S-65 was revisited on October 26, by Schneider.
Three temporary bench marks were established at the site
south of Structure S-65, and one temporary bench mark at each
of the two remaining sites. The elevations of these bench
marks in feet above national geodetic vertical da.tum were deter-
mined from level runs made by the Precise Leveling Section of
the Bureau of Coastal and Land Boundaries. The temporary bench
marks were used to obtain river levels, elevations of selected
tree bases and elevations of soil layers.
The basic lithology of all three sites is the same: fine
grained quartz-sand deposited off shore on a shallow bottom dur-
ing high stands of Pleistocene seas. The sand is highly uniform
in its fineness and contains a very low percentage of accessory
The principal post depositional changes have been the cut-
ting and filling of the Kissimmee River Valley and the deposi-
tion of organic material in the interstices (hardpan) and on
top (peat) of the flood plain deposits of fine sand. The term
"flood plain" is probably a misnomer as hydrologically the pre-
regulation Kissimmee River exhibited more characteristics of a
lake than a river. As the term implies, flood plains are in-
undated only during the flooding of streams whereas the flood
plain deposits of the Kissimmee were under water most of the
Carbonaceous hardpan in the banks of the river valley is
a reliable indicator of the normal range of fluctuations of
the river stage and the immediately adjacent ground water table.
The upper surface of this material is the pre-regulation high
water mark at-any given point along the river bank. Peat de-
posits, where they are still preserved, are also good indicators
provided that elevations of these deposits are determined where
they wedge out against.the uplands.
The pre-regulation high water mark at Fort Kissimmee was
based upon the upper sharply defined surface of a very carbon-
aceous hardpan underlying a sand layer leached of all carbon-
The pre-regulation high water mark at S.R. 70 was also
based upon the upper surface of carbonaceous hardpan.
The pre-regulation high water mark at the Padgett Ranch
near S-65 was based upon the upper surface of a thin layer of
compressed peat overlain by slope wash of fine quartz sand.
The site south of Structure S-65 presents a special pro-
blem. As at the other sites, the upper surface of the peat
layer was below the lower edge of upland trees in the vicinity.
The measured elevation of 52.62 feet for the surface of the
peat layer was confirmed by the cross-checking of permanent
bench marks near Structure S-65 by the Precise Leveling Section;
however, this elevation is very different from previously deter-
mined pre-regulation ordinary high water elevations for Lake
Kissimmee. On the basis of geological evidence, Bishop (1967)
concluded that the elevation was 53.75 feet. Schneider (1976)
based his elevation of 53.4 feet on vegetative evidence. Since
the lake flows out to the south, ordinary high water elevations
based on evidence from the southern extremity might conceivably
be a tenth or two below a determination based on evidence from
the northern portion; however, the discrepancy is too great to
be explained at this time.- Further field research both above .
and below Structure S-65 could provide an answer. Since the
ordinary high water elevation south of Structure S-65 should
be the same as that for Lake Kissimmee, the lake elevation of
53.4 feet has been accepted as the ordinary high water elevation
for the beginning of the Kissimmee River proper (Table 1).
Table 1. Ordinary high water elevations along the Kissimmee
Ordinary High Water
Distance From Moutha .Elevation Slopea
(it (miles) (Ft. NGVD) (ft/mile)
South of Structure S-65 96 53.4
At Fort Kissimmee 70.5 46.9 0.25
At S.R. 70 16 24.8 1.41
a Along old channel.
All three sites were similar: trees, mainly live oaks
(Quercus virginiana), grew at elevations considerably above
current river levels and somewhat higher than the investigated
soil changes indicative of standing water. Live oaks are up-
land trees that are killed or injured by water standing over
the roots for extended periods. The lowest live oak found at
the site south of Structure S-65 was a 1.05-foot diameter tree
growing at an elevation of 53.74 feet. At Fort Kissimmee, the
lowest live oak was a 1.3-foot diameter treesituated at an'
elevation of 47.27. feet. ....Alower upland tree;was encountered ..
at this site: aa-persimmon' (Diaospyros:virginiana) .with::a dia-.
meter;of- 0.'v25: foot-.was- growing ratf46.24 feet.-.;The. _small: size .
of this tree means that it .probably .became established during
the post-regulation period:-or.'during the three dry years pre-
ceding--the onset' of regulation. A 1.05-foot live oak located
at an elevation of 25.26 feet was the lowest upland tree located
at site at S.R. 70.
Vegetation and soil layers were examined at three sites on
the Kissimmee River to determine the pre-regulation ordinary
high water elevations. -At Fort Kissimmee and at S.R. 70, the
high water mark as indicated by the position of upland trees
was above the level indicated by soil changes; therefore, the
ordinary high water elevation at each site was based upon the
upper limit of wetland soils (Table 1).
The slope given in the table on the previous page allow
the ordinary high-water elevation to be prorated for any point
along: the old river channel. Information on prorations using
Canal C-38, the channelized river, is given in Appendix I.
To illustrate the amount of land below the pre-regulation
ordinary high water elevation, cross-sections were drawn of
the Kissimmee River floodplain at the three sites (see attached
sheets). Floodplain elevations were based primarily on as built
profile information supplied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Additional information was taken from USGS topographic maps.
Bishop, E.W. 1967. Florida lakes. Florida Board of Conservation,
Division of Water Resources. Tallahassee. 62 p.
Schneider, Douglas L. 1976. Pre-regulation Ordinary High Water
Elevations of Five Major Lakes of the Kissimmee Chain:
East Tohopekaliga, Tohopekaliga, Cypress,-Hatchineha-- -
and Kissimmee. Florida Department of Natural Resources,
Bureau of Coastal and Land-.Boundaries (Unpublished) ..'-
*-Til1 i t flt
i i... ';.... iI':
F *-1. I Abj
I I[ i- I I
:1I- 'I 1.1.
Fl :ii iii i 1.. i
. . I -rII -r-r-rTr-T-T-r T-r f -rT-rT" Ir 1T7 r I T 1FVTT i
LrT- FiLLL i IJ1 LL1L1-U- -1 -4 1 1 1 1 1 1 '' I- I- 4- H -+11 -I -H--I-- I H--H-]- I-i-i-l- hillti I Ilttl Il
-..-t--. -- -
LLLL_.LLLLLLL4.L4-Lt-4II-I I I I I I I I I-44C1-4-46 1 --Jt-- t- 1 . .
I I LL.I IIII. IIII IIII IIII I11 1 1 1 1 11 1 '.LJI.I.A.IIL -I -.L 1- 1_____.._______________
~I II ___I ---_---III~LII~ I- -
1- I 1--
: :-- -1
I T ~: ~ : I
.I..L*-L. .il~cll -~-C-CC-L-iCiC-l-t-)-t)cl-n-)-t-l~-t-1-+ -t--rl--r+-t-1
-4.L--l 4 '4 I I I 1 1 1-14 1 1 1 1 1ttt~l- 1 1 1 1 1 i I T Tf rr =ic
I I I A-IJ-1 I I 1-44-4-44-4-4-C-' 4 I 1 1 1 -i-H+-f 1 1 0 1 0 1. 1 t-1-
i r-I TH
__ _111 ______ __
.i ; -.: ::
) .1 I *
. : 3:
__~~~~~~~~~ liii ,- TT~rrTTrrrrTIT T I ifi 1 I TI IT TIi ~I ~-LA1 irrrr
I I LLLL l-l J..-J-IJ-LJ-. -I- I-1- --1-4-1- 1 -+4-4-I--H-H-a--t "t-l- -t-t--t'i -t1-n"-Tr-"T-Tf -TTTT
LI ~LLLJ. LLL I J.-J4-.L4--L--L4-4-I--I--I-I--I--i-I--4-H-H-ht-I-i--~--M-1--I-t--t-1-1-1-I-r-rr ~FTTT1 Fl 1 T
i f 1 1
*IU U -,)
lI1_ 'LLA 'L' 'll. I-I-1-i--t 4 "t- itt- 1 1 11 r1 TT IiI'
I I_ II r-..,i I-i
I I 1-i
1.. 1 -I I. I .I..I..JI.... .. '-.L ---5- I I --I- 1--1- 4- i I I1 I I I I .I---.-- -- .---- I-- i --- 4--i
-I-- lI---I--I--I I
-L-i-- 4--I--I--44-4-14-I I-4- 1H- 1 + -H- -H- F-H-+H-It-- tH I9 --t--t-i-tl-t -l- I t- l-111i--
... .. '--r'P- -v-r- """ -"t- -- "'-g T g--* g T T -g- "T- I -I-g T _"'- .T '" -g- -f"g'-I';-F- ]" .' -
S1-11 4 ++-+--H-4--H-H- --t-- -t-I--
.1.. !- 1.-1- I..l-l-r-ec-l-l -c.cc-n-l-l-r-ccl~-H- -cl-tl-1--rr+-1--t
It. fI U-4- .1I. I.rl -4 -1A- A t-l+* .f,-t- -t-t-|.-t..-.- .1 l .T
.I-I-LI-II-I-CI-I I-I GI--l--l-l--l--l-1-1-1-1-~-;~-1-1- -t-H-l--~-ft)-1-ltl33-1-I--1--t 1-
,. I, h l- l j
PRE-REGULATION ORDINARY HIGH WATER ELEVATIONS OF FIVE MAJOR
LAKES E- KISSIMMEE CHAIN: EAST TOHOPEKALIGA,
TOHOPEKALIGA, CYPRESS, HATCHINEHA AND KISSIMMEE
Douglas L. Schneider
Boundary Determination Section
Bureau of Coastal and Land Boundaries
September 2, 1976
The subject of this report is the ordinary high water eleva-
tions, such as existed prior to the onset of regulation in 1964,
of five major lakes of the Kissimmee headwaters chain. Regulation
of these lakes has effectively curtailed flood peaks. Since Florida
courts recognize lake bottom reclaimed by such regulation by govern-
mental agencies as artificial reliction, the title to all such re-
claimed lake bottom remains in the State. The post-regulation
ordinary high water elevations of the five lakes are dealt with in
two earlier reports: "Ordinary High Water Elevations of Four Major
Lakes of the Kissimmee Chain" and "Ordinary High Water Elevation
of Cypress Lake, Osceola and Polk Counties." Both reports contain
background material that is not discussed in this report. The field
data used below were collected at the same time as field data used
in the earlier reports.
In 1881, the State of Florida Trustees of the Internal Improve-
ment Trust Fund entered into the first contract with Hamilton Disston
et al. The intent of the contract was to drain and permanently re-
claim for agriculture lands adjacent to the Kissimmee River and
elsewhere. Therefore, when the State subsequently conveyed lands
.- I i 1
around the Kissimmee chain of lakes in the late nineteenth and
early twentieth century, the'lakeward boundary of the conveyance
was intended to be the post-drainage ordinary high water line.
In accordance with recognized riparian law, any subsequent decline
in the water levels after the establishment of the post-drainage
levels is considered reliction and the ordinary high water-line,
which is ambulatory in nature, is altered to a lower elevation.
Since the lower limit of upland trees around a lake is regulated
by the high water levels, this limit has long been recognized by
courts as a valid criterion for determining the ordinary high water
elevation and is the criterion applied to the five lakes discussed
PRE-REGULATION ORDINARY HIGH WATER ELEVATIONS
Upland trees are those that are killed on injured by water
standing over the roots for extended periods. The lowest trees
around the five lakes that fit this criterion are live oak
(Quercus virginiana). The lowest live oak tree that definitely
was established prior to the onset of regulation is given for
each lake below (Table 1). On each lake live oaks grew upward of
the lowest tree to the crest of the old berm. On two lakes, Cypress
Lake and Lake Kissimmee, small live oaks were found at 52.53 and
52.46 feet respectively; however, the size of these trees indicated
that they had become established either after the onset of regula-
tion or no-later than the three dry years proceeding regulation.
Table 1. Elevation of lowest upland trees.
.: Elevation of lowest Tree Diameter
Lake live oak (ft. NGVD) (ft.)
East Lake Tohopekaliga 60.07 1.85
Lake Tohopekaliga 57.03 2.7
Cypress Lake 54.06 0.95
Lake Hatchineha ": 53.92 2.0
Lake Kissimmee 53.35 2.95
The pre-regulation ordinary high water elevations derived from
the vegetative data are presented in Table 2. Benchmarks referenced
to these elevations are found in the two reports referred to above.
Table 2. Pre-regulation ordinary high water elevations.
East Lake Tohopekaliga
Ordinary High Water Elevation (ft.NGVD)
Ernie Bishop (1967) studied three of these lakes as part of a
project exploring geological criteria that could be used to deter-
mine the ordinary high water elevation. Because benchmarks and
staff gages in this definitely do require checking for reliability,
his ordinary high water elevations are presented for comparative
purposes only. The ordinary,high water elevations were: Lake
Tohopekaliga, 56.5 feet; Lake Hatchineha, 54.3 feet; and Lake
Kissimmee, 53.75 feet. These elevations are in reasonable agree-
ment with ones given in this report.
Bishop, Ernie. 1967. Florida Lakes. Part I. A study of the
high water lines of some Florida lakes. Florida Board of
Conservation, Division of Water Resources, Tallahassee.
Schneider, Douglas L. and Karen L. Busen. Ordinary High Water
of Cypress Lake, Osceola and Polk Counties. Florida Depart-
ment of Natural Resources, Bureau of Coastal and Land
Boundaries, Tallahassee. (Unpublished)
Schneider, Douglas L. and Karen L. Busen. Ordinary High Water
Elevations of sour major lakes of the Kissimmee Chain:
East Tohopekaliga, Tohopekaliga, Hatchineha and Kissimmee
Florida Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Coastal
and Land Boundaries, Tallahassee. (Unpublished)