By Tom Palmer

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 1:45a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 1:45a.m.

LAKELAND | Southwest Florida Water Management District officials voted Tuesday to pay nearly $3 million to temporarily flood more property in connection with the Lake Hancock lake-level project.

Approved Tuesday during the monthly board meeting in Sarasota was a $2.3 million payment to Lake Hancock Partners and related enterprises operated by the Rogers family of Highland City for flooding easement over 93 acres on a lakefront parcel south of Circle B Bar Reserve.

Also approved was a $665,000 settlement to William H. and Brandy Lee Stanton for a flooding easement for 35 acres near Saddle Creek north of the lake.

Swiftmud board members also held a closed session Tuesday to meet with the agency’s legal staff to discuss resolution of the remaining five cases that are the subject of eminent domain suits.

Lake Hancock is a 4,519-acre lake at the headwaters of the Peace River whose level is controlled to some extent by a structure on Saddle Creek south of the lake.

Swiftmud officials are building a new structure south of the existing one to raise the lake’s regulated level from 98.7 feet to 100 feet above sea level.

The purpose is to store water to allow water managers to release water downstream to replenish flow in the Peace River during dry periods to help the river to maintain its minimum flow as required by state law.

The higher lake level involved the purchase of land or easements involving 73 parcels around the lake because the new lake level restores the lake’s historic flood plain, permanently or temporarily flooding land and homes there.

Total land acquisition costs for the project have totaled more than $125 million.

Work is under way on the new structure, which replaces a structure installed in the creek in 1963.

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