Canoeing on the Wekiva River
|Counties||Orange, Lake, Seminole|
|Part of||St. Johns River|
|- left||Rock Springs Run, Mastodon/Wekiva Falls Run, Blackwater Creek|
|- right||Sweetwater Creek, Little Wekiva River|
|- location||Apopka, Florida|
|- elevation||70 ft (21 m)|
|Source confluence||Wekiwa Springs Run and Rock Springs Run|
|- location||Apopka, Florida|
|- location||DeBary, Florida|
|- elevation||30 ft (9 m)|
|Length||16.0 mi (26 km)|
|Basin||351.113 sq mi (909 km2)|
|Wikimedia Commons: Wekiva River|
|Progression : Wekiva River-St. Johns River-Atlantic Ocean|
The Wekiva River (sometimes spelled Wekiwa, a Creek word meaning spring of water) is a 16.0-mile-long (25.7 km) river in Central Florida, north of Orlando in the United States. It originates in Apopka, Florida and joins the St. Johns River, the longest river in the state, in DeBary, Florida. The Wekiva River system includes the main stem of the Wekiva River joined by three main tributaries - Rock Springs Run, Blackwater Creek and Little Wekiva River - and about 30 contributing groundwater springs. It is designated as a Florida State Canoe Trail, an Outstanding Florida Water and an Aquatic Preserve by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Wekiva River system is also one of the two rivers in Florida federally designated as a National Wild and Scenic River for its scenery, recreation, geology and diverse habitats.
The Wekiva River System is located in three counties - Orange, Seminole and then Lake - in Florida with a total drainage basin of 351.113 square kilometres (135.565 sq mi). The river nearly follows the boundary between Orange and Seminole County. After Orange County, the river separates Lake County and Seminole County.
According to the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), the Wekiva River originates from Wekiwa Springs and after about 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km) from the spring, Wekiva is joined by the Rocks Springs Run.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection defines the portion of the river from Wekiwa Springs to the confluence with Rock Springs Run as the Wekiwa Springs Run. The Wekiva River then starts from the confluence of the two spring runs and joins the St. Johns River after 15.3 miles (24.6 km).
The headwater of the Wekiva River is the Wekiwa Springs, a 2nd magnitude spring located within the Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka, Florida. The spring has a mean discharge of 66.5 cu ft/s (1.88 m3/s) or 5,745,600 cubic feet (42,980,000 US gal) per day emanating from two vents the largest of which is 35 by 5 ft (11 by 1.5 m) located 15 ft (4.6 m) under the water. A weir located about 270 ft (82 m) from the springs forms a 200-by-100-foot (61 by 30 m) wide pool for swimming. After 170 ft (52 m) from the weir, the river widens into a trapezoidal pool about 430 ft (130 m) at its widest. The clear, bluish-green water narrows into a 60-foot (18 m) wide run as it flows northeastward.
Rock Springs Run
After only about 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km) from the headwater, the Wekiva River is joined by Rock Springs Run, a spring-fed stream that originates from Rock Springs, a 2nd magnitude spring located about 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Wekiwa Springs. Rock Spring is situated inside Kelly Park, an Orange County park in Apopka, Florida. After leaving the county park, the stream enters the Wekiwa Springs State Park, meandering for a total length of 9.2 miles (14.8 km) before joining Wekiva River. After the confluence, the area left of the Wekiva River is protected by Rock Springs Run State Reserve, another Florida state park.
The Wekiva is joined by the Sweetwater Creek at about 1.2 mi (1.9 km) from the headwater. The 2-mile (3.2 km) long stream is merged by the outflow of Miami Springs, a 3rd magnitude spring, about 800 ft (240 m) before the confluence with Wekiva River.
Wekiva River Buffer Conservation Area
Beyond the creek, the eastern side of the river is protected by the Wekiva River Buffer Conservation Area, a 2,570 acres (1,040 ha) protected seasonal wetlands of lush floodplain forest of hardwoods, ferns, and sabal palms along the Wekiva and Little Wekiva River. Protecting the natural condition of the area helps preserve the water quality of both rivers.
Little Wekiva River
The Little Wekiva River merges with the Wekiva River at about 4.7 mi (7.6 km) from the source. The 15-mile (24 km) long Little Wekiva River is the only tributary influenced by the areas north and west of the urbanized Orlando, Florida. The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) has worked with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Transportation, the city of Altamonte Springs, Seminole and Orange counties, environmental interest groups and basin residents to find solutions in rehabilitating and protecting the Little Wekiva to minimize its negative impact in the water quality of the Wekiva River. In Longwood, Florida before the Little Wekiva enters the Wekiva River Buffer Conservation Area, several 2nd and 3rd magnitude springs, including the Sanlando Springs, replenish the Little Wekiva with fresh underground water.
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- Simpson, J. Clarence (1956). Mark F. Boyd, ed. Florida Place-Names of Indian Derivation. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Geological Survey.
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