The Steinhatchee River is a black water river that begins in Lafayette County rising from Mallory Swamp, which is located south of the Town of Mayo, and flows approximately 35 miles then discharges into the Gulf of Mexico. The river picks up tannins from decaying vegetation and acquires a black tint as it flows south. There are two priority springs that contribute to the discharge of the Steinhatchee River, Steinhatchee Rise and TAY76992. The Steinhatchee River supports commercial and sports fishing and recreational scalloping along the coast.
The District’s Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) program is a means to ensure water availability for the present and future, and to prevent "significant harm" to the area’s natural resources. The Florida Legislature has directed the five water management districts to establish MFLs for streams, springs, rivers, lakes and other priority water bodies. In accordance with the District’s priority MFL schedule (PDF), work has been started on the Steinhatchee River MFL. As defined by statute (Section 373.042 Florida Statutes), "the minimum flow for a given watercourse shall be the limit at which further withdrawals would be significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of the area."
The District has an accelerated schedule to establish MFLs for its priority water bodies. The District’s MFL Program is a science-based process, which the District Governing Board uses to establish MFLs. Before rule adoption by the Governing Board in the District rules, the science supporting the MFLs will undergo a peer review process initiated by the District.
The District voluntarily submits to independent scientific peer review for all MFLs established. This practice ensures that the highest degree of scientific certainty is provided prior to adopting a MFL by rule.