This lake is one of the famous disappearing lakes of North Florida; a pattern recognized by Native Americans, some of whom called it Okeeheepkee, or “disappearing waters”. Most recently, detailed water level records maintained by the Northwest Water Management District extend back to January 1950. The shallow conditions that limit boating exist when the lake is below an elevation of 82 feet. The record shows that the lake was below this elevation four times: 1954—1959, 1981 –1983, 1999 – 2008 and 2011 –2014.
The lake is in a closed basin with no exiting stream and is isolated from the under-laying limestone by a thick layer of impermeable clay. The lake level is controlled by a shifting balance between direct rainfall on the lake and runoff from the watershed versus evaporation and leakage through the clay layer.
Water level data kindly provided by the Northwest Florida Water Management District