July 9, 2012 – When Suwannee River floodwaters at Wilcox fell below 9 feet Sunday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) deactivated boating restrictions in Zone 4.
Zone 4 is the section from the County Road 340 Bridge at Rock Bluff to one mile below the Fowler Bluff boat ramp. This 51-mile segment falls under the boating restrictions as long as the Suwannee is at 9 feet or more at the Wilcox gauge, where flood stage is 11 feet.
The FWC activated restrictions in this zone July 4.
"We verified with the Suwannee River Water Management District that the water level has fallen below the required 9 feet at Wilcox," said Capt. Martin Redmond, area supervisor at the FWC’s Lake City office.
"Even though the restrictions have been lifted on this zone, we highly recommend people avoid boating on the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers until normal conditions and water levels return. There are many navigational hazards along the rivers at this time," Redmond said.
Dangers include floating debris, submerged navigational hazards and extremely strong currents on these rivers. There is also the potential for public safety issues and the increased possibility of property damage from vessel wakes, the captain explained.
"FWC officers are patrolling the rivers and continuing to assist local communities to help people dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby," Redmond said.
Zone 5 on the Santa Fe River remains an idle-speed, no-wake zone. It was activated June 29. FWC officers are still enforcing that zone. This zone is a 32-mile segment from River Rise in O’Leno State Park west to the confluence of the Suwannee River. It was activated when the Santa Fe River reached 17 feet on the Three Rivers gauge, where flood stage is 19 feet. That zone remains in effect.
An idle-speed, no-wake restriction means a vessel must proceed at a speed no greater than what is required to maintain steerageway and headway in that river zone. At no time is any vessel required to proceed so slowly that the operator is unable to control it or anything it may be towing.