Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Satilla, Altamaha Flowing Once More; Normal Winter Flooding Is Natural and Healthy, a Riverkeeper Reports

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Satilla, Altamaha Flowing Once More; Normal Winter Flooding Is Natural and Healthy, a Riverkeeper Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE MORRISON

Despite dire predictions of a dry winter, water has flowed at a high level through Southeast Georgia's rivers.

Even the Altamaha, which rises in a part of the state hit exceptionally hard by drought conditions, has remained up.

With the Satilla higher than state climatologist's projections could lead anyone to expect, it appears the drought is broken and that's good news for fishermen, Satilla Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers said.

"The river is high. It's been all out in the woods now for several days, and that's a good thing," he said.

The Satilla flows from the wetlands of the south-central part of the state. It endured extremely low water for a couple of years, until September, when a tropical weather system blew in and filled it.

"Ever since then, the river has had a good flow," Rogers said. "It's been out in its flood plain several times, and that's really good for the river and the critters in it."

The river's normal winter flooding keeps the river healthy by flushing out excess nutrients and toxins, he said.

"The health of the river is predicated on having normal ups and downs," he said. "It's time for an up."

The Satilla was at 12.8 feet Friday at Atkinson on U.S. 82, just under its flood stage of 13 feet. At 11 feet, water begins to flow over the banks and out into the floodplain, Rogers said.

Continued high water on into the spring will result in a better crop of sunfish, such as bluegill and redbreast, two prized species.

Rogers cautioned that the rain must continue now through the crucial days of early spring.

"Once the trees and bushes put on their growth spurt, it does a lot to draw down the swamps and creeks," he said. "It's a process called evapo-transpiration, and it takes more rain to keep the river at the same level when it's happening. …

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