It took six years and nine months, but the region's main water source finally rose to above-normal levels again.
Boat ramp closings, dry riverbanks and prolonged water restrictions are in the past — for the time being.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly referred to as Swiftmud, released its aquifer resource results Friday and those results were met with a sense of long-awaited satisfaction.
"An increase in water supplies in the aquifer provides additional base flows to rivers and streams and an increase in spring flows," said Swiftmud spokeswoman Robyn Felix. "Our lakes should get recharged."
Aquifers are underground layers of rock and sand that hold water. In southwest Florida, more than 80 percent of the water supply comes from aquifers.
As of Wednesday, the aquifer level for the northern region of the water district — which includes Hernando, Citrus, Sumter, Lake, Marion and Levy counties — was 3.09 feet. The normal range for the region is 0 to 3 feet.
Swiftmud also reported rainfall for the year at 45.67 inches across the six-county region. The historical average during that span — from Jan. 1 through Sept. 5 — is 39.73 inches.
The 12-month average for the northern region is 53.51 inches.
Based on numbers from the Florida Automated Weather Network through the University of Florida, the Brooksville area already has exceeded the annual average.
As of Wednesday, the gauge — located between Brooksville and neighboring Nobleton — recorded a total of 54.62 inches of rainfall since the start of 2012. A tropical depression in early June, coupled with Tropical Storms Debby and Isaac, brought significant rain to Hernando.
The last time aquifer levels were above average was Dec. 9, 2005, according to Swiftmud.
"We're not aware of any negative effects that above-normal aquifers could cause, only benefits," said Felix.
On the agricultural side, there are some downsides to excessive rainfall — namely root rot — and some farmers have had to endure those pains. Nonetheless, Florida farmers need large amounts of rain during the summer, and that's what they've been getting, said Hernando County Extension Director Stacey Strickland.
There are two hurricanes in the Atlantic basin — Leslie and Michael — being monitored by meteorologists and emergency management officials. The storms are not expected to directly impact Florida, but the local forecast is showing a likelihood of greater-than-average rainfall during the next five days.
The heaviest rains will be on Sunday and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office has announced that river flooding in Trilby could continue throughout the weekend.