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Continuous stream discharge, salinity, and associated data collected in the lower St. Johns River and its tributaries, Florida, 2020

May 17, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, is deepening the St. Johns River channel in Jacksonville, Florida, from 40 to 47 feet along 13 miles of the river channel beginning at the mouth of the river at the Atlantic Ocean, in order to accommodate larger, fully loaded cargo vessels. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, monitored stage, discharge, and (or) water temperature and salinity at 26 continuous data collection stations in the St. Johns River and its tributaries.

This is the fifth annual report by the U.S. Geological Survey on data collection for the Jacksonville Harbor deepening project. The report contains information pertinent to data collection during the 2020 water year, from October 2019 to September 2020. The addition of water-quality data collection at St. Johns River at Buffalo Bluff near Satsuma was the only modification to the previously installed network.

Discharge and salinity varied widely during the data collection period, which included above-average rainfall for 3 of the 5 counties in the study area. Total annual rainfall for all counties ranked third among the annual totals computed for the 5 years considered for this study. Annual mean discharge at Clapboard Creek was highest among the tributaries, followed by Ortega River, Durbin Creek, Pottsburg Creek at U.S. 90, Cedar River, Trout River, Julington Creek, Pottsburg Creek near South Jacksonville, Dunn Creek, and Broward River, whose annual mean was lowest. Annual mean discharge at 8 of the 10 tributary monitoring sites was higher for the 2020 water year than for the 2019 water year, and the computed annual mean flow at Clapboard Creek was the highest over the 5 years considered for this study. The annual mean discharge for each of the main-stem sites was higher for the 2020 water year than for the 2019 water year except for Buffalo Bluff, which remained the same.

Among the tributary sites, annual mean salinity was highest at Clapboard Creek, the site closest to the Atlantic Ocean, and was lowest at Durbin Creek, the site farthest from the ocean. Annual mean salinity data from the main-stem sites on the St. Johns River indicate that salinity decreased with distance upstream from the ocean, which was expected. Relative to annual mean salinity calculated for the 2019 water year, annual mean salinity at all monitoring locations was higher for the 2020 water year except at the tributary sites of Trout River, Dunn Creek, and Clapboard Creek, which were lower, and Durbin Creek, which remained the same. The 2020 annual mean salinity on the main-stem of the St. Johns River was the highest since the beginning of the study in 2016 at Dancy Point, Racy Point, Shands Bridge, below Shands Bridge, above Buckman Bridge, and Jacksonville (Acosta Bridge). Among the tributary sites, annual mean salinity rankings for 2020 were highest for Julington Creek and Ortega River, which were the second-highest on record for those sites.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Continuous stream discharge, salinity, and associated data collected in the lower St. Johns River and its tributaries, Florida, 2020
DOI 10.3133/ofr20221024
Authors Patrick J. Ryan
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2022-1024
Index ID ofr20221024
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center