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Apalachicola River and Bay


The Apalachicola River and Bay watershed is the southern extent of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, and Flint (ACF) rivers basin. The ACF basin covers approximately 21,000 square miles of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, extending north to the Appalachian Mountains. The Apalachicola River begins at the outfall of Lake Seminole located at the historic confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. It is Florida’s largest river, the fifth largest entering the Gulf of Mexico, and is 21st in magnitude of flow volume in the United States. The Apalachicola River also has the largest forested floodplain in Florida. Estuarine waters within the basin include Apalachicola Bay, East Bay, St. George Sound, St. Vincent Sound, and Alligator Harbor. The watershed includes a number of tributaries and contributing drainage areas, including the Chipola River, the New River, and the Carrabelle River.

The ACF basin is one of the most diverse, productive, and economically important aquatic systems in the southeastern United States and is the highest priority of the District’s SWIM program. The importance and value of Apalachicola River and Bay have been recognized through designations such as Outstanding Florida Water, Aquatic Preserve, National Estuarine Research Reserve, and International Biosphere Reserve. Conservation lands within the watershed include the Apalachicola National Forest, St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, several state parks, the Apalachicola River Water Management Area, the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, Tate’s Hell State Forest, and the Apalachicola Wildlife and Environmental Area.

Apalachicola River and Bay SWIM Plan

The Apalachicola River and Bay Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Plan is focused on actions that can be taken within Florida to protect and restore watershed resources. Addressing continuing challenges affecting water quality and natural systems requires a range of strategies. Among these are additional improvements in the treatment and management of stormwater runoff; continued implementation of best management practices for agriculture, silviculture, and construction; and additional efforts to improve wastewater treatment and management. To complement these, long-term protection of critical habitats and associated buffer areas will further help protect water resources. Projects identified in the Apalachicola River and SWIM Plan include the following:

  • Stormwater Planning and Retrofit
  • Septic Tank Abatement
  • Advanced Onsite Treatment Systems
  • Agriculture and Silviculture BMPs
  • Basinwide Sedimentation Abatement
  • Riparian Buffer Zones
  • Aquatic, Hydrologic, and Wetland Restoration
  • Estuarine Habitat Restoration
  • Strategic Land Conservation
  • Watershed Stewardship Initiative
  • Sub-basin Restoration Plans
  • Wastewater Treatment and Management Improvements
  • Analytical Program Support
  • Comprehensive Monitoring Program

Any questions concerning the Apalachicola River and Bay SWIM plan may be directed to Paul Thorpe at or (850) 539-5999.

Supporting Documents

An Analysis of Stormwater Inputs to the Apalachicola Bay

Jackson Blue Spring Water Resources Assessment

Ground Water Chemical Characterization of Jackson Blue Spring and Wakulla Springs

Hydrogeology of the Northwest Florida Water Management District

Preliminary Ground Water Basin Delineation for the Spring Lake Spring Group, Jackson County

Nitrate Sources of Springs Discharging to Merritt's Mill Pond, Jackson County

Eastpoint Regional Stormwater Management Systems, Franklin County