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
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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
Droughts of 1931-35, 1937-41, 1949-57, 1967-69, 1989-92, and 1998-2002
Floods of 1928, 1929, 1947, 1948, 1959, 1964, 1973, 1984, 1998, and 2004
Progress of Streamgaging Activities and Costs
New Technology and Instrument Upgrades
Streamgaging Costs Then and Now
National Streamflow Information Program
Timeline: History of the Suwannee River at White Springs Streamgage