Floodwaters in the Suwannee River rose above 24 feet at Branford today, activating boating restrictions in Zone 3, which is from Little River Spring to the County Road 340 Bridge at Rock Bluff.
This 23-mile segment will be an idle-speed, no-wake zone as long as the Suwannee River is at 24 feet or more, as indicated on the Branford gauge, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials.
FWC officers will be patrolling this area of the river to ensure boaters comply with the idle-speed, no-wake rule, said Capt. Martin Redmond, area supervisor at the FWC’s Lake City office. The FWC encourages boaters to stay off the river system until conditions improve.
“We don’t believe the river will maintain this level for very long,” Redmond said. “We will continue to monitor it and get the word out once the zone is deactivated.”
This is the third zone activated this year. The FWC activated Zone 5, a 32-mile segment from River Rise in O’Leno State Park west to the confluence of the Suwannee River, on March 3, when the Santa Fe River reached 17 feet on the Three Rivers gauge, where flood stage is 19 feet. That zone remains in effect. Zone 1, a 39-mile segment from the U.S. 90 Bridge at Ellaville south to the State Road 51 Bridge at Luraville, was activated March 4 when the Suwannee River reached 47 feet at the Ellaville gauge, where flood stage is 54 feet. This zone also remains in effect.
An idle-speed, no-wake zone means a vessel must proceed at a speed no greater than what is required to maintain steerageway and headway. 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.
“Water levels on the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers can fluctuate rapidly, creating navigational hazards for unsuspecting boaters, such as floating debris, submerged rocks and stumps and new shoaling conditions. We want everyone to be safe,” Redmond said.
The two remaining zones are:
- Zone 2 – from the S.R. 51 Bridge at Luraville to Little River Spring. This 18-mile segment becomes an idle-speed, no-wake zone when the Suwannee River reaches 26 feet or more above mean sea level at the Branford gauge, where flood stage is 29 feet.
- Zone 4 – from the C.R. 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 reaches 9 feet or more at the Wilcox gauge, where flood stage is 11 feet.
Logo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission