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May 20, 2014

Wet winter, spring produces highest groundwater levels since 2005

Live Oak —

April marked the fifth month of above average rainfall for most counties within the Suwannee River Water Management District (District). According to the District's hydrologic conditions report, an average of 6.47 inches of rainfall fell in April which is almost double the historical average. It has been the ninth wettest winter and spring since 1932.

Most of the rainfall in April was caused by three systems that dropped up to 14 inches in the upper Suwannee River basin and 12 inches in coastal areas. Minor to moderate flooding occurred on portions of the Suwannee and Alapaha rivers. Portions of the Aucilla and Steinhatchee rivers also experienced minor flooding. The Santa Fe River at Three Rivers Estates experienced major flooding as the river rose to its highest level since April 2009. Three Rivers Estates has been above flood stage since March 21.

Many springs on the Suwannee River have been or are closed to swimming and diving due to inundation from river water. Rising river levels can slow or reverse spring flow, causing river water to flow into springs. In April, the Suwannee River flowed into White Sulphur Springs for the fourth month in a row. The flow into the aquifer was measured at 86 million gallons per day on April 16 just before the springhouse became flooded. Fanning Springs also experienced a reversal in flow last month.

Groundwater levels have been increasing since February, and levels are currently the highest since 2005.

The high groundwater levels, including the highest levels in 20 years near Mayo in Lafayette County, will sustain spring and river levels for months.

“When the river drops, we expect to see spring flows we haven’t seen since 1998,” said District Senior Professional Engineer Megan Wetherington.

To keep informed on hydrologic conditions, visit the District’s website at www.mysuwanneeriver.com.

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