News Releases

If Santa Fe River reaches 17 feet Tuesday, idle-speed, no-wake zone goes into effect

News Release

Monday, January 25, 2010

Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525

As the water level continues to rise, the Santa Fe River will approach flood stage Tuesday, activating an idle-speed, no-wake zone along a 32-mile segment of the river, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The FWC has been working with Suwannee River Water Management District personnel, who expect the Santa Fe to reach 17 feet above mean sea level at the Three Rivers gauge, where flood stage is 19 feet.

Once the river reaches 17 feet at the Three Rivers gauge, the FWC will apply boating restrictions to Zone 5, which runs from River Rise in O'Leno State Park west to the confluence of the Suwannee River.

"The Santa Fe may reach that level Tuesday. We want to give boaters a heads up," said Capt. Roy Brown, area supervisor at the FWC's Lake City office. 

An idle-speed, no-wake zone means a vessel must proceed at a speed no greater than that required to maintain steerageway and headway. The FWC doesn't require any vessel to proceed so slowly that the operator can't control it or anything it may be towing.

If the FWC activates the speed zone, officers will patrol this area of the river to ensure the idle-speed, no-wake zone is enforced, Brown said. 

"Water levels on the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers can fluctuate rapidly, especially with all the rain we've been getting lately. These fluctuations can create navigational hazards for unsuspecting boaters, such as floating debris, submerged rocks and stumps and new shoaling conditions. We want everyone to be safe," Brown said.

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

The other four zones are:

  • Zone 1, from the U.S. 90 Bridge at Ellaville south to the State Road 51 Bridge at Luraville. This 39-mile segment becomes an idle-speed, no-wake zone when the Suwannee River reaches 47 feet or more above mean sea level at the Ellaville gauge, where flood stage is 54 feet.
  • 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 3, from Little River Spring to the County Road 340 Bridge at Rock Bluff. This 23-mile segment becomes an idle-speed, no-wake zone when the Suwannee River reaches 24 feet or more above mean sea level at the Branford gauge.
  • 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 above mean sea level at the Wilcox gauge, where flood stage is 11 feet.

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



FWC Facts:
Boats 16 feet and longer must have at least one USCG-approved throwable Type IV PFD per passenger - immediately available in case of a fall overboard.

Learn More at AskFWC