Okefenokee Swamp south drains west to Suwannee River

Update 2022-12-21: Okefenokee Swamp watershed boundaries 2015-08-01.

Most of the south end of the Okefenokee Swamp drains west into the Suwannee River.

This is one reason Suwannee Riverkeeper is so interested in stopping titanium strip mine proposed far too near the southeast corner of the Swamp by Twin Pines Minerals LLC of Alabama.

Please send your comments to Georgia officials asking them to thoroughly review and then reject the five permit applications from the miners:

[WWALS map: All Landings in the Suwannee River Basin]
WWALS map: All Landings in the Suwannee River Basin

Highlighted on the left is the Little Swannee Creek Confluence with the Suwannee River, several miles downstream from Fargo. That creek connects with Breakfast Branch, which comes down out of the Swamp before crossing FL 2 (GA 94). Orange waterways are in the Suwannee River Basin, and red ones are in the St. Marys River Basin, according to USGS, but see below.

Next to the north is Cypress Creek, which has tributaries way out in the Swamp, and flows pretty much straight west, reaching the Suwannee River a couple of miles downstream of Fargo.

Upstream from Fargo, almost halfway to Griffis Fish Camp, is a creek for which USGS has no name. I’m calling it Strange Island Creek, because it comes west out of the Swamp past North Strange Island and Middle Strange Island. It has branches coming south down from Jack Island. Those islands show up on Google Earth, but not Google Maps.

[Google Earth]
Google Earth

This Google Earth map shows these creeks because I added them from USGS tracks.

EPA MyWaters Mapper has an odder take on these creeks, showing Cypress Creek and Little Swannee Creek connected at Sandy Island.

Not only that, EPA shows both of those connected to Moccasin Creek, which flows east into the St. Marys River.

Or does it? Maybe in a big flat swamp waters move in different directions depending on water levels, wind, and rainfall on one side or another.

[EPA Waters Geo Viewer]
EPA Waters Geo Viewer

On both the WWALS google map and the Google Earth map you can see a black or purple line wiggling from south of Sandy Island over to the southeast corner of the Swamp at Soldiers Camp Island, Roasting Ear Island, and Fowl Roost Island, before turning due north. That’s my current guesstimate at the actual divide between the Suwannee and St. Marys River Basins in the Swamp. Various people are researching that.

One thing is clear: that divide not where the USGS HUC maps say it is: see the shading on the google map.

[WWALS plain map: All Landings in the Suwannee River Basin]
WWALS plain map: All Landings in the Suwannee River Basin

That HUC boundary doesn’t even account for water flowing west down the Suwannee Canal from Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge HQ into the East Fork of the Suwannee River, and on past Billys Island.

The WWALS All Landings google map does not yet show that connection. That and the extravagant filigree of creeks on the north side of the Swamp are left to another day.

Meanwhile, wastewater coming down the River Styx from the mine site into the Swamp may not all go down the St. Marys River: some of it could wander into the Suwannee River. And any contaminants that get down into groundwater or the Floridan Aquifer could come back up in the Okefenokee Swamp or the Suwannee River.

You can help stop that mine by asking the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and Georgia elected officials to thoroughly review and reject the miners’ permit applications.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!