The History of Lake Region Lakes Management District

The first group to envision the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes from the boater’s eye view organized as the Twenty Lakes Boat Course Club in 1915. At that time, some of the lakes had small runs or swampy places between them. These did not allow for general boat traffic. The club wanted canals there. The canals and other structures that began to form the web of the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes were begun in 1915 by the Twenty Lakes Boat Course Club.

What happened between 1917 and 1919, when the Winter Haven Lake Region Boat Course District (currently known as the Lake Region Lakes Management District) was established, is not known. Apparently the members of the Twenty Lakes Boat Course Club realized they had bitten off more than they could chew in terms of expenses for canal maintenance and other responsibilities that later were to be turned over to the taxpayers.

On May 20, 1919, the Florida Legislature passed “An Act to Create and Incorporate the Winter Haven Lake Region Boat Course District.” Taxing power was granted by referendum in a special election held July 7, 1919.

When the canals were first dug, maintenance became a problem. As time passed, boat traffic produced extensive shoreline erosion. The first seawalls were built in 1948, at the request of property owners whose land was falling into the canals. The material used was pressure-treated, tongue-and-groove timber. Later that was replaced with a concrete fiber material. The latest, that is used today, is aluminum alloy.

The District has changed throughout the years in order to meet the needs of the public. More emphasis has been placed on providing public access to lakes and the management of lake levels through the use of water control structures.