LIVE OAK, FLA., July 9, 2021 – The Suwannee River Water Management District’s (District) 15-county region received an average of 3.04 inches of rain from Tropical Storm Elsa. Alachua, Union, and Levy counties received the most rainfall from the storm, totaling an average of 4.28 inches, while over seven inches fell in the highest rainfall areas in western Alachua and northeastern Levy counties. The Suwannee River is experiencing minor flood stage and levels on the Santa Fe River are reaching moderate flood stage. River levels are expected to continue to rise as runoff enters the systems.
As a result of the tropical storm, portions of Alachua, Bradford, Levy, Dixie and Columbia counties experienced localized flooding. The District’s High Water Mark Strike Team has been activated and is documenting flooding across the District. The photographs and locations collected are analyzed and used to determine impacts of high rainfall events.
Field staff are also working to gather high water flow measurements. Such data plays a vital role in future flood preparation. The District works with the United States Geological Survey, Southeast River Forecast Center to share data and update flood forecasts and planning. The highest flow recorded was 9,800 gallons per second or 1305 cubic feet per second at US 301 at Alligator Creek in Starke, more than 100 times higher than normal flow.
The District’s Land Management Team has reopened most tracts within the region. The following tracts/locations remain closed due to damages and/or unsafe conditions from the storm: Steinhatchee River – Rattlesnake Ford Section, LA Bennett Grade Bridge on Steinhatchee Springs Tract, and Steinhatchee Falls Park; Suwannee River – Camp Branch; Alapaha River – Jennings Bluff; Waccasassa River – Andrews Grade on Devil’s Hammock Tract. The Land Management Team and cooperators are working toward repairing these tracts to ensure the safety of residents and visitors once they reopen.
Visitors to the District lands are encouraged to be cautious due to potential flood conditions. Care should be taken when visiting reopened lands due to possible storm damage not yet identified by the District. Care should also be taken along District roads and recreation sites that still might be inundated or flooded. Do not attempt to drive through water standing or flowing across roads due to wash outs. Six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and two feet of flowing water will carry most vehicles away. Some roads may be blocked by downed trees.
Due to flooding and unsafe conditions the District has suspended issuing all boat/canoe camping special use authorization on the Suwannee, Withlacoochee, and Santa Fe Rivers.
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.