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Posted on: April 1, 2021

HIGH RAINFALL AND RIVER LEVELS ACROSS NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA

High water levels under a highway bridge

LIVE OAK, FLA, April 1, 2021 – The Suwannee River Water Management District’s (District) 15-county region received an average of 5.93 inches of rain in February - 50% higher than the average long-term rainfall trend. Water levels on the Suwannee, Santa Fe, Withlacoochee and Alapaha rivers are high because the rainfall is impacting groundwater levels and surface water runoff. 

Most of Taylor, Alachua, Lafayette, Dixie, Gilchrist, Union and Bradford counties received between six to eight inches of rainfall in February. Other areas received between four to six inches of rainfall.

“Last month, the area received a large amount of rain due to an Arctic/North Atlantic oscillation pattern,” said Robbie McKinney, Hydrologist IV of the District. “Oscillation refers to precipitation and temperature climate variations that influence regional weather patterns. The oscillation overpowered the current La Nina conditions, causing higher than normal rainfall.”

Because of the increased rainfall, there is limited ability for the landscape to absorb the water which leads to high water levels in the rivers. High water levels are naturally occurring and important to the ecosystems because they provide aquifer recharge and wetland hydration. As a result, the surrounding wetlands provide spawning areas for fish and other inhabitants. 

High water levels can also be beneficial for water resource development efforts and recovering minimum flows and minimum water levels. During these events, water in rivers can be captured before it goes to the Gulf of Mexico and moved to areas with high recharge values which can then help recover other water resources and natural systems.

The District is closely monitoring rainfall and groundwater levels for the area. Residents, visitors and business owners can find real-time rainfall, river and groundwater levels on the District’s Water Data Portal at www.MySuwanneeRiver.com/507/Water-Data-Portal. The data is updated every two hours. The District also offers a 24-hour voice recording of current river levels by calling 386.362.6626 or 800.604.2272 (FL only).

The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public. The District holds true to the belief of water for nature, water for people. Headquartered in Live Oak, Florida, the District serves 15 surrounding north-central Florida counties. 

For more information about the District, visit www.MySuwanneeRiver.com or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, search @SRWMD.

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