March 5, 2013

Eyes on the river

March 5, 2013 Staff Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak — Portions of area rivers continue to rise and are expected to continue above flood stage before cresting later this week and into next week. The high levels are due to downpours mostly in Georgia where they have been dealing with flooding there.

In the meantime folks locally are being urged to avoid the Withlacoochee and parts of the Suwannee rivers due to potential contamination of five to six million gallons of sewage that spilled into the Withlacoochee from a Valdosta wastewater treatment plant last week. The Withlacoochee connects to the Suwannee in northwest Suwannee County. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is collecting water samples from the area and testing results should be available within the next week. 

For more information, visit

Megan Wetherington, senior professional hydrologist for the Suwannee River Water Management District, said today that the upper Suwannee River, northern Suwannee County and to the east of where the Withlacoochee drains into the Suwannee, is ideal for kayaking and canoeing.

“Any potential contamination is from the Withlacoochee on down. The upper Suwannee including Spirit of the Suwannee, Suwannee Springs, White Springs, up to Fargo is unaffected,” said Wetherington. 
Wetherington said that the areas on the upper Suwannee almost look like a lake at the moment due to the slow flow of the river. As the river water connects with the fast moving Withlacoochee, water slows farther up the Suwannee.

“People with interests on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee and lower Santa Fe rivers should monitor forecasts closely,” said Wetherington. “People near Nobles Ferry on the Suwannee River should monitor the Ellaville forecast.”

For more information on river flooding visit

In Hamilton County, Emergency Management continues to monitor the flooding. 

“If you live in a low-lying area or along one of these flooding rivers, please keep aware of your situation and have a plan,” said Emergency Management Director Henry Land. “As always do not drive through water on the roads.”

According to Land, those that have well water should bring their water to a boil before consuming or add eight drops of chlorine bleach and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. 
If you need water, you may bring containers to the Crossroads (CR 141 and SR 6) or Bellville Fire Department (CR 145, Jennings) to be filled between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Information is available on the emergency management website at and the information line at 386-792-2911. Current road closures can be found online.

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