On the relationship of the Waccasassa and Withlacoochee Basins - August 8th, 1974

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On the relationship of the Waccasassa and Withlacoochee Basins - August 8th, 1974

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On the relationship of the Waccasassa and Withlacoochee Basins - August 8th, 1974
Parker, Garald G. (Garald Gordon)
Hernandez, Pedro A.
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Box 2


Subjects / Keywords:
Aquifers -- Hydrogeology -- Florida ( lcsh )
Hydrology -- Florida -- Biscayne Aquifer (Fla.) ( lcsh )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
Resource Identifier:
032968560 ( ALEPH )
891343127 ( OCLC )
G16-00681 ( USFLDC DOI )
g16.681 ( USFLDC Handle )

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August 8, 1974 FROM THE DESK OF THE CHIEF HYDROLOGIST: ON RELATIONSHIP OF THE WACCASASSA AND WITHLACOOCHEE BASINS BY GARALD G. PARKER AND PEDRO A. HERNANDEZ Chapter 16CB-0.03, Florida Statutes, entitled "Watershed Basins," states that: "Pursuant to section 5 of Chapter 61-691, Laws of Florida, the area of the District (SWFWMD) is divided into watershed basins to include each major stream and its tributary streams and all lands draining therein except the Green Swamp watershed basin" (the italics are ours). It is our intent to show that the largest part of the currently constituted Waccasassa Basin is a tributary of the Withlacoochee, much as the Oklawaha is a tributary of the St. Johns, and therefore should not be transferred out of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The Oklawaha, on the other hand, is a recognized part of the St. Johns River drainage and should be transferred to the St. Johns Water Management District at the appropriate time. Arpong the eleven basins designated by the State Legislature that comprise Southwest Florida Water Management District are the Waccasassa and the Withlacoochee. The latter has its headwaters in the Green Swamp 120 to 130 feet above sea level, whereas the former has much lower, heretofore indefinite and generally poorly understood hydrologic boundaries and drainage. In general, boundaries of the designated river basins follow $Urface-water divides, excepting the. Green Swamp Basin. However, the boundary lines are stair-stepped along Section, Township and Range boundaries to simulate the topographic divides (Figure 1). This was done for convenience in the assessment of taxes inasmuch as property boundaries normally follow the land-survey grid, not topographic or hydrologic features such as stream or surface-drainage divides. Those who were charged with drawing the boundaries had difficulty in some areas discerning drainage divides because of the non-existence of discernable stream headwaters even in those areas having good or reasonably good topographic maps. Some parts of the District are not covered yet by topographic mapping and for the remaining mapped area, the maps usually have only 10-foot contour intervals. Thus, in very flat and swampy areas it is almost impossible to determine just where a stream begins or, in downstream swampy areas, even where its channel should be located. It follows that some unavoidable errors were made in drawing basin boundaries. In addition to these errors are those caused by the fa.ct that surfacewater basins, as discriminated by topographic divides, do not always coincide with natural ground-water divides. In fact, in this District, as shown on Figure 1 and 2, they more often do not.


August 8, 1974 Page Two Thus it was that, when the Waccasassa Basin was drawn, it included a total area of about 1, 220 -square miles. But more than 72 percent of this vast area, lying in its eastern part, is drained not by the Waccasassa River, which has a drainage of only about 550 square miles, but by groundwater discharge into Rainbow Spring and by numerous smaller springs and seeps into Rainbow (Blue) Run. The area involved in this large groundwater drainage is about 876 square miles and its total runoff is to the Withlacoochee at a line-juncture east of Dunnellon. Figure 1 shows, by means of arrows indicative of regional ground-water flow, the area contributing drainage to the Withlacoochee. Other arrows indicate flow to other places of discharge, and by drawing lines between divergent flow patterns, ground-water basins are defined. Figure 2 shows the northern part of Figure 1, enlarged and without ground-water flow arrows. Unfortunately, this information had not been prepared prior-to -the time .. that.. tha original basin boundaries were established, Chapter 61-691, Florida Statutes, 1961, nor was such information available at the time the subsequent dec!sion was made to transfer the Waccasassa Basin to the new Suwannee River:-Basi.-n .Water_ Mana.gement _Distric.t, Chapter 72-299, Florida Statutes, 1972. With the new information now available (Figures 1 and 2), it can be shown that the 876 square miles of the Waccasassa Basin's Rainoow Springs-Blue Run drainage constitutes the major tributary to the Withlacoochee River. --Both-the map makers of 1961 and the recent map changers of 1972 recognized that Rainbow Spring and Blue Run, of themselves, constitute a tributary system to the Withlacoochee, consequently the.basin boundary is drawn so as to include Rainbow Spring and Blue Run within the Withlacoochee Basin. However, lacking an understanding of the extent of the lands draining.thereto, the boundary delineators excluded thistributary area to Rainbow Spring and Blue Run from the Withlacoochee Basin. This excluded area produces more runoff per square mile (14.49 inches per year) than any other par_ t of the Withlacoochee River Basin. The Withlacoochee Rive:rc-' s main stem, from. -.its or1.g1.n in the_wetlands of the Green Swamp east of Eva to its mouth in Withlacoochee Bay west of Yankeetown, is some 140 miles long. Not counting the Rainbow Springs drainage area, the Withlacoochee's drainage area is about 2,020 square miles. Including it would increase the river basin's size to about 2,896 square miles. Flow of the Withlacoochee must be estimated in its lower 38 miles. The river is tidal below the Inglis Dam, eleven miles inland from the river's mouth. Lake Rousseau occupies that part of the river valley-upstream from Inglis Dam for a distance of about 13 miles. The first U. S. Geological Survey stream-gaging station upstream from the mouth that is unaffected by tides,


August 8, 1974 Page Three lake backwater, or lockage and releases of flow to the bypass channel is near Holder, 38 miles above the mouth. Holder is the farthest-downstream gaging station on the Withlacoochee River before flow enters Lake Rousseau. Its average discharge is about 752 mgd or 8.65 inches per year, but unmeasured flow of about 10 mgd, between Holder and Lake Rousseau increases the total average river inflow to the lake to about 762 mgd or 8.78 inches per year. Additional inflow to Lake Rousseau of about 509 mgd or about 14.5 inches per year comes from Rainbow Spring and the 5-mile-long Blue Run. Thus total average daily stream inflow to the lake is 762 mgd + 509 mgd = 1,271 mgd. At average flow rates, Rainbow Spring drainage contributes 509 of the 1271 total inflow, or 40 percent of the total inflow into Lake Rousseau. Truly, this makes the Rainbow Spring tributary-drainagebasin the principal tributary to the Withlacoochee River even in times of average flow. But its importance can be determined better-by--comparing the 95 percent duration flows of these two -tributaries . to --the. -lower Withlacoochee River. The 95 percent flow duration is that flow which equals or exceeds the values indicated on a flow-duration curve of a given stream 95 percent of the time; it is a time of low flow, such as occurs during long periods of dry weather when water-supply is in greatest demand. At such periods of low flow, the quantity entering Lake Rousseau from the upper Withlacoochee is about 165 mgd whereas the flow from the Rainbow tributary area contributes 390 or about 70 percent of the total flow into 555 the Lower Withlacoochee; by contrast, the Upper Withlacoochee only contributes 30 percent. Thus, the Rainbow Spring drainage basin is a prime tributary to the Withlacoochee, much as the 0klawaha River basin is a tributary to the St. Johns River basin. It has been shown above that the Rainbow Spring hydrologic system, con~ sis ting of 5-Jllile-long Rainbow __ (Blue) _ Run., .. the__springs themselves, and the contributary extensive underground drainage system comprise, in total, a prime tributary system to the Withlacoochee and thus comprise an integral part of the Withlacoochee Basin. This the Waccasassa River Basin Board recognized in its Resolution No. 12, dated January 17, 1974, requesting that the Waccasassa Basin not be transferred to the Suwannee River Water Management District but be retained in the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Subsequently the District Board of Governors, on April 10, 1974, by their Resolution No. 540 requested that statutory amendments be made to the Florida Water Resources Act of 1972 permitting the Waccasassa Basin to remain a part of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. This request includes npt only the Rainbow drai~age system of 786 square miles within the Waccasassa Basin but the true Waccasassa River drainage area of about 547 square miles. The latter !s an independent river basin lying between the Withlacoochee River


August 8, 1974 Page Four basin on the south and the S-uwannee River basin on the north. Although the Waccasassa River basin not a part of either of these huge river systems it is more closely allied with the Withlacoochee than with the Suwannee. It should be retained in the Southwest Florida Water Management District and not be transferred to the hydrologically unrelated Suwannee Water Management District which lies entirely north of the Peninsular Florida Hydrologic Divide which separates the Suwannee from the Waccasassa, Withlacoochee and Silver Springs ground-water basins. GGP:lr


JO' .•. EXPLANATION 0 ObMrvotion well with lntCISurtmtnt, Mor 1973 -60--. Potentlofflttric contour ........ -... ,. .......... -- •-• 1-IO-.h-le ___ , - •••-& Boundor, of Southwut Flor ido Wottr wono91mtnt Distr ict • 1 laundorr of Woter Mono911111nt 8o1i n .,,t .. -9'1.a~., -CiflO"~n'll M''"' ..... __,, OI .. CT""1S OP G~NP-"1A-r• ,-. '6~0'111 POTENTIOMETRIC SURFACE OF FLORIDAN AQUIFER .., SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DI STRICT MAY 1973 SOUTHWEST ll' Prepared by U . S . GEOLOGICAL SURVEY in cooperation with FLOR I DA WATER MANAGEMENT and the BUREAU of GEOLOGY DISTRICT FLORIDA DEPAfHME;NT of NATURAL RESOURCES --u. s .~s-.. s.1oo1n......._, .. , I . 1913 SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT ICAL[ I :tOO 000 __ _._.J01::=====••--.-., • . to •u •t111-~ ....... --:---.... -, ............ ,, 10 ' JO 40 to IIILOOOCIU S Mf-P S~~INCl BASIN-.,.80UCIMltta,Glll:>lJMD~ _ ~TER8A~lNS A~O "4rlOIJAL DlR.CTIOllS OF-G~tJD•W4T~ FV.,N/


FIGURE 2 1'1 . ; l •::, . ,:i\}"i!1J'~ ~t'_=:-• . . ---:-.L"""".....,~ -ltl Turtle Creek Pt(~' > '-'---\\ ' /}-.lv"b ~-,,; I EXf>L.;ANATION !3 t V .:---~., Loni Po i nt{.\~ , I J ~. l • r ,~ .... --;;., l.\. ':,> •' ~. '\. • I. E3 F3 F3


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