Middle Suwannee River Area
National fact sheet - Middle Suwannee River Area Watershed (PDF, 705 KB)
The focus area watersheds are located in north central Florida approximately halfway between the cities of Jacksonville and Tallahassee along the Middle Suwannee River in Suwannee and Lafayette counties. The Suwannee River originates in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and flows through North Central Florida for 245 miles before it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Middle Suwannee suffers from water quality concerns over nutrients, sediment and pathogens. The river acts as a filter for pollutants entering the Suwannee River, which ultimately enters the Gulf of Mexico.
The hydrogeology of the area is of karstic nature with closed basins, stream to sink drainage, numerous springs and an unconfined aquifer with a high degree of recharge potential overlain by sandy, well-drained soils. Major land uses are cropland, forestlands and pastureland, with cropland being dominated by row crop agriculture. This area is extremely vulnerable to ground water contamination.
In addition, the Suwannee River and its floodplain provide some of the most productive wildlife habitats in Florida. It supports at least 54 species of fish, 39 species of amphibians, 73 species of reptiles, 232 species of birds and 39 species of mammals.
Escambia River Watershed
National fact sheet - Alabama and Florida – Escambia River Watershed (PDF; 872 KB)
The Escambia River is a large alluvial river that flows south from Alabama through the Florida Panhandle to the Pensacola Bay Estuary and the Gulf of Mexico. The Escambia River Basin is highly productive, and serves as a nursery for commercially important shellfish and finfish, as well as a diverse array of flora and fauna.
The Basin ecosystem provides diverse habitats ranging from mature bottomland hardwood forest to pine uplands, agricultural lands, and estuarine marsh. It provides important habitat for numerous species of plants and animals, including more than 85 native freshwater fish species, candidate mussel species, and rare, threatened, and endangered species such as the brown pelican and piping plover.
The estuary also acts as a filter for pollutants, provides shoreline stabilization, and offers recreational and educational opportunities for the local population and tourists.
In recent years, the Escambia River Watershed has experienced extreme drought conditions. Problems associated with sedimentation have been exacerbated by poor flushing and large sediment loads.
Current and historic land uses have left a legacy of polluted sediments that contribute to water quality concerns because of the threats that they pose to human health, aquatic health, and decreased fish and shellfish production.
The major land uses are cropland, forestland, rangeland and pastureland. Croplands in the area are dominated by row crop agriculture. The major crops are cotton and peanuts, with corn and soybeans as minor crops.