The City of Winter Park launched a canal maintenance project this week, but weekend boating plans should not be impacted.
Dredging began on Monday at the Venetian Canal, which connects Lakes Maitland and Osceola, and is expected to take approximately six weeks. The canal will be closed on weekdays, but access will be open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Winter Park’s canals date back to the late 19th century and were used to float logs, harvested from the surrounding forests, to sawmills. They now serve local boaters and lakeside residents, and are a featured attraction on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour. According to owner Ron Hightower, the closure won’t have much of an effect on the weekday tours. “We’ll just spend more time in the other lakes and change the route a little,” he told the32789.
Periodic dredging of sand and other sediment is necessary to maintain the proper depth for boats to pass through, but the current situation is among the final remnants of Hurricane Ian.
“Last year’s hurricanes contributed additional sediment deposits into the canals which created the need for the current dredging operation,” said City of Winter Park Communications Manager Clarissa Howard.
“There are a lot of areas that are really shallow,” said Hightower. “I’ve seen it get pretty bad over the years, but never to this extent.” He appreciates the city’s attention to the waterways, and firmly believes the “once in a lifetime” hype over Ian.
“It was a total fluke,” he said. “Central Florida had so much rainfall before that hurricane, the water level was already so high. If the water level had been where it is now, we could have handled it.”
Once Venetian Canal dredging has completed, the same work schedule – with an estimated timeline of three weeks – will begin at the Fern Canal, which connects Lakes Osceola and Virginia. Updates will be posted on cityofwinterpark.org