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Circular 1330

A Centennial Tribute, 1906-2006: History of U.S. Geological Survey Streamgaging Activities for the Suwannee River at White Springs, Florida

By Richard Jay Verdi and Stewart A. Tomlinson

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.9 MB)


For centuries, the banks of the Suwannee River at White Springs were considered a sacred ground where people sought refuge in its “healing waters.” Many believed that the mineral-enriched waters cured illnesses. The U.S. Geological Survey began continuous streamgaging activities at White Springs, Florida, in 1906 after an increase in congressional appropriations and rapid town development due to growing tourism and residential population. In 1906, streamgage data was a once-per-day gage reading that were handwritten in a water-level booklet by a local observer with discharge measurements taken every 6 to 8 weeks by a hydrographer. In 2006, real-time data were recorded at 1-hour increments and transmitted to U.S. Geological Survey computer networks using the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, thus enabling the general public to access readings within minutes of the actual measurement. Additional data and measurements are taken and made available for high or low flows that occur during significant floods and droughts.

The gage at White Springs has recorded several historic hydrologic events that affected the Suwannee River and surrounding areas. Major droughts include those during 1931-35, 1949-57, and 1998-2002. Severe floods occurred in 1948, 1973, and 2004. On April 10, 1973, the discharge was 38,100 cubic feet per second, which is the highest recorded discharge for the period of record. A flood of this magnitude is expected at a recurrence interval of about once every 200 to 500 years.

Posted September 2009

For additional information contact:
Richard Verdi
U.S. Geological Survey
Florida Integrated Science Center
Suite A200
2639 North Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32303

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Suggested citation:

Verdi, R.J., and Tomlinson, S.A., 2009, A Centennial Tribute, 1906-2006: History of U.S. Geological Survey Streamgaging Activities for the Suwannee River at White Springs, Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1330, 43 p.






Purpose and Scope

History of White Springs

Historic Data-Collection Operations and Computations

Historic Data-Collection Operations

Operations during 1906-08, 1927-32, 1932-41, 1941-63, 1963-79, 1979-87, 1987-96, 1996-2003, and 2003-06

Computations of Daily Water-Level Elevation

Computations of Daily Streamflow

Summary of Major Droughts and Flood Events

Major Droughts

Droughts of 1931-35, 1937-41, 1949-57, 1967-69, 1989-92, and 1998-2002

Major Floods

Floods of 1928, 1929, 1947, 1948, 1959, 1964, 1973, 1984, 1998, and 2004

Progress of Streamgaging Activities and Costs

New Technology and Instrument Upgrades

Streamflow Measurements

Streamgaging Costs Then and Now

National Streamflow Information Program



Timeline: History of the Suwannee River at White Springs Streamgage

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