SOS Newsletter June/July 2013

To Save Our Suwannee Members:
Every time I sit down to do it, this newsletter is harder and harder for me to write. While getting it ready, I got dozens of calls and even more e-mails about new industrial and agricultural projects that have suddenly come on the radar. More raw sewage spills, a waste incinerator on the Middle Suwannee, another incinerator in Dixie County, a giant new farm just up-stream from Cross City and water quality problems around the region.
I’m sorry for the delay in getting it to you this time. Annette Long, President

Save Our Suwannee’s Next Meeting: Santa Fe and Ichetucknee River Minimum Flows and Levels
October 1, 2013 7:00 pm

High Springs Civic Center 330 Santa Fe Blvd, High Springs, FL 32643
Dr. Robert Knight from the Florida Springs Institute will talk to us about the recently proposed Santa Fe River and Ichetucknee River Minimum Flows and Levels. Dr. Knight is an environmental scientist with more than 35 years of professional experience in Florida. He is the founder of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. Bob is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences at the University of Florida where he teaches a graduate-level course on the ecology of springs.
Dr. Knight is currently active on restoration efforts for the Santa Fe River springs, Kings Bay/Crystal River springs, Ichetucknee Springs, Rainbow Springs, and Silver Springs, and is on the Board of Directors for both the Silver River Alliance and the Wakulla Springs Alliance, two citizen advocacy organizations.
He also had several comments on the technical draft of the MFL’s and we thought that the community would be interested in hearing more of the technical details and the real world effectiveness of this new rule


Santa Fe River during the drought

Santa Fe River in one of the many periodic floods.

Minimum Flows and Levels should address periodic flooding as well as critically low levels. Our southern rivers need to flood occasionally to stay healthy.


It is a gift that we got this rain, but what we need to recover the health of our groundwater levels, lakes, rivers and springs are several years of this trend in rainfall to make up for the years of deficit in our groundwater reserves. Prior to June 2013, many of the gages in the Upper Santa Fe River and a num-ber of springs were at record low levels. This is June 2013 data from the July 2013 Hydrologic Report from the Suwannee River Water Management District:

Most upper Floridan aquifer monitor wells did not immediately respond to rainfall, with less than 40% showing a significant increase in levels by the end of the month. Wells along the Suwannee River corridor lagged behind the rising river with levels slightly lower than in May. Two wells in south-ern Levy County, including one at Rosewood Tower near Cedar Key, remained below the 10th percentile for the second month in a row. Eleven percent of the wells were below the 25th percentile, considered below normal, while 80% were in a range considered normal. Statistics for a representative sample of wells are shown in Figure 11. Statistics for a number of regional long-term wells are shown in Figure 12 along with a description of aqui-fer characteristics.
The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), a climatological tool produced by the National Climatic Data Center, evaluates the severity and fre-quency of abnormally dry or wet weather using precipitation, temperature, and soil moisture data. The PDSI value for the week ending June 29 indi-cated normal conditions in north Florida and moderately
wet conditions in south central Georgia.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center (CPC) three-month outlook showed a potential for above-normal rainfall through Septem-ber. Neutral El Niño/Southern Oscillation conditions are expected into the fall, with no tendency toward either El Niño (cooler and wetter) or La Niña (warmer and drier) conditions.
The U.S. Drought Monitor showed no drought in peninsular Florida or Georgia, the first drought-free report for both states since 2010.

At the August 2013 Governing Board Meeting, hydrologist Megan Wetherington reported that in the confined aquifer areas of the SRWMD that groundwater levels are still rising and will likely continue to rise for some time.
However, from an historical standpoint, for more than a decade, drought has been punctuated by periodic intense rainfall events. You can see by looking at data from 1932 to early 2013 that our rainfall events have not been as intense and our droughts have been a little bit longer, but just as severe.

Figure below from SRWMD Monthly Hydrological Report January 2013.