The initiative was designed to better understand the dynamics of the river and watershed, identify how alterations have affected the system, and evaluate alternatives to better manage the water resources.
The District is studying the Withlacoochee River (see map) and its surrounding watershed from the Green Swamp to the Gulf of Mexico. The Withlacoochee River watershed includes the area of land that water flows across as it moves to the Withlacoochee River. This watershed contains a variety of natural environments and man-made alterations which affect the behavior of the river. In addition, the river system has experienced extreme high and low conditions in recent decades due to fluctuations in rainfall.
As part of this initiative, staff have performed hydrology and hydraulics studies, field investigations and engineering
analyses to evaluate how the river system functions. This includes the development of a comprehensive computer model of the entire Withlacoochee River, which has been calibrated using in-depth field surveys and published gauge data. The next step is to run different model scenarios and analyze how the scenarios will affect each other and the overall dynamics of the river and watershed. The model results will help staff evaluate alternatives to better manage the water resources. The system is interconnected, so making one change in an area will likely affect other areas of the watershed.
Staff have been meeting with elected officials, special interest groups and residents to communicate the project status and solicit feedback regarding model scenarios. District staff provided the model results for review and comment during the public workshops outlined below.
- April 23, 2015: PASCO COUNTY – Pasco High School, 36850 State Rd. 52, Dade City
- April 30, 2015: SUMTER COUNTY – South Sumter High School, 706 N. Main St., Bushnell
- May 7, 2015: CITRUS COUNTY – Cornerstone Baptist Church, 1100 W. Highland Blvd., Inverness
- May 13, 2015: LEVY COUNTY – Yankeetown-Inglis Woman’s Club, 5 56th St., Yankeetown
- May 21, 2015: HERNANDO COUNTY – SWFWMD Headquarters, 2379 Broad St., Brooksville
The public comment period closed on July 10, 2015.
Facts About the Withlacoochee River and Watershed
- The Withlacoochee River watershed covers approximately 2,100 square miles in parts of Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Levy, Marion, Pasco, Polk and Sumter counties.
- The Withlacoochee River is approximately 160 miles long and originates in the Green Swamp extending northward through eight counties before eventually discharging into the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown, Florida.
- The river is designated an Outstanding Florida Water by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
- Approximately 80 percent of the Green Swamp, a designated Area of Critical State Concern because of its ecological and hydrological importance, lies within the headwaters of the watershed.
- Historical alterations due to navigation, logging, mining and ranching have occurred as far back as the 1800s in the Withlacoochee River watershed. In addition to these alterations, the system has experienced extreme high and low conditions in recent decades due to natural fluctuations in rainfall and groundwater levels.