FWC News Release

March 3, 2008
Contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525

Flood Zone Map (1.5MB PDF)

A 32-mile segment of the Santa Fe River is now an idle speed, no wake zone, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials.

Zone 5, which runs from River Rise within O’Leno State Park west to the confluence of the Suwannee River, was activated as an idle speed, no wake zone today because of rising water levels.

This area of the river becomes an idle speed, no wake zone when the Santa Fe River reaches 17 feet as indicated on the Three Rivers gauge, where flood stage is 19 feet.

“The Santa Fe reached that level today,” said Capt. Roy Brown, area supervisor at the FWC’s Lake City office. “The Santa Fe is forecast to crest this weekend at about 19 feet, if we get the rain that is expected.”

An idle speed, no wake zone means a vessel must proceed at a speed no greater than required to maintain steerageway and headway. At no time is any vessel required to proceed so slowly the operator is unable to control it or anything it may be towing.

FWC officers will be patrolling this area of the river to ensure the idle speed, no wake zone is enforced, Brown said.

“Water levels on the Suwannee River can fluctuate rapidly, creating navigational hazards, such as floating debris, rocks, stumps and shoaling conditions for unsuspecting boaters. We want everyone to be safe,” Brown said.

The idle speed, no wake zone will stay in effect until the water level recedes below 17 feet.

“This is also the first time we have used the new flood zones,” Brown said.

Previously, when the Suwannee River reached 26 feet above sea level (3 feet below flood stage), one gauge in Branford placed the entire 160-mile system under an idle speed, no wake restriction, hindering all boaters along both the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers, even though some areas of the rivers were well below flood stage.

In 2006, FWC unanimously approved dividing the restricted areas on the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers into five zones with a water-level gauge in each section. When the water level rises -- ranging from 9 to 47 feet -- idle speed, no wake zones will be enforced for that zone.

“In the five new zones, idle speed, no wake restrictions are driven by Suwannee River Water Management District gauges already situated within these segments,” Brown said. “When the specific gauge reaches the identified water level, idle speed, no wake restrictions will be imposed. When water recedes below the specified level within a specific segment, the restrictions will be lifted.”

Zone 1 is from U.S. 90 Bridge at Ellaville south to State Road (SR) 51 Bridge at Luraville. This 39-mile segment will be an idle speed, no wake zone when the Suwannee River is at 47 feet or more above mean sea level, as indicated on the Ellaville gauge, where flood stage is 54 feet.

Zone 2 is from the SR 51 Bridge at Luraville to Little River Spring. This 18-mile segment will be an idle speed, no wake zone when the Suwannee River is at 26 feet or more above mean sea level as indicated on the Branford gauge, where flood stage is 29 feet.

Zone 3 covers Little River Spring to the County Road (CR) 340 Bridge at Rock Bluff. This 23-mile segment will be an idle speed, no wake zone when the Suwannee River is at 24 feet or more above mean sea level as indicated on the Branford gauge.

Zone 4 runs from CR 340 Bridge at Rock Bluff to one mile below the Fowler Bluff Boat Ramp. This 51-mile segment will be an idle speed, no wake zone when the Suwannee River is at 9 feet or more above mean sea level as indicated on the Wilcox gauge, where flood stage is 11 feet.

Zone 5 is from River Rise within O’Leno State Park west to the confluence of the Suwannee River. This 32-mile segment will be an idle speed, no wake zone when the Santa Fe River is at 17 above feet mean sea level or higher, as indicated on the Three Rivers gauge, where flood stage is 19 feet.

To obtain real-time river levels, visit www.mysuwanneeriver.com