FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 18, 2014
SUWANNEE RIVER BOUNCES BACK FROM PROLONGED DROUGHT
TALLAHASSEE – Thanks to above-average rainfall earlier this year and ongoing conservation efforts by the Department of Environmental Protection, springs on Florida’s historic Suwannee River are bouncing back from prolonged droughts that impacted flow from 2006-2012.
In fact, one 50-mile portion of the river is now receiving more than three times as much groundwater from springs as was recorded during the height of the 2012 drought when record-low groundwater levels and river flows were recorded after back-to-back droughts starting in 2006.
Those are the findings recently reported by the Suwannee River Water Management District, which charts water flow and water levels on the Suwannee as well as many of the springs that feed the river.
“Seeing springs on the Suwannee River flowing at near-record levels is inspiring,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “We appreciate the great scientific work by Dr. Ann Shortelle and her team at the Suwannee River Management District to identify the most effective solutions to preserve and protect our precious water resources for years to come. I also want to thank local government, environmental stakeholders and the great staff at DEP for their terrific efforts."
The district reports that a 50-mile stretch from the Suwannee River State Park to the city of Branford is now seeing a contribution of 1,500 million more gallons per day from groundwater flowing into the river via springs compared to 2012. That groundwater comes from many of the nearly 300 springs that feed the river daily.
"The flow of the Suwannee is doubling
between Suwannee River State Park and Branford," said Megan Wetherington,
a senior professional engineer with the Suwannee River Water Management
District. "That's from all the springs along the river. We've been busy
measuring flow at most of the popular ones, and it's been great seeing all the
people enjoying these beautiful resources."
Wetherington said above-average rainfall the past two years has contributed to the increased water flow.
The Suwannee River Water Management District has been recording groundwater levels near the Suwannee for the past 30 years. The latest hydroconditions report shows overall groundwater levels rank near the 90th-percentile since the monthly measurements began.
In other words, only 10 percent of the measurements in the past 30 years have been higher than this latest report.
“The monitoring tells us that the springs' conditions are at least back to where we were in 2005 – after two hurricanes in 2004 followed by a wet winter,” Wetherington said.
To learn more about Florida's springs, click HERE.