Little rain means water conservation and prescribed fire remain crucial

A map illustrates rainfall totals across the district.

A map illustrates rainfall totals across the district.

PALATKA, Fla., Feb. 14, 2017 — Over the past 12 months, rainfall has remained below average across the St. Johns River Water Management District, resulting in a districtwide rainfall deficit of almost 8 inches. A full report outlining rainfall totals was presented at the district’s February Governing Board meeting Tuesday.

“The lack of rain highlights the need to conserve water and continue placing an emphasis on safely conducting prescribed fires,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Water conservation is key to ensuring future water supplies, while prescribed fire safely reduces the risk of wildfires that are more common in dry weather. Both are critical preventive measures.”

Dry conditions are reflected in annual and monthly rainfall totals, where Flagler County has the greatest 12-month deficit of 12.8 inches, receiving only 39.3 inches over the last year. Volusia, Lake, Marion, Putnam, Baker and Nassau counties each have a cumulative 12-month rainfall deficit of more than 8 inches.

Rainfall during January followed the trend of below-average rainfall for many counties, with a few exceptions. Exceptional January rainfall totals include:

  • Indian River, Brevard, Osceola and St. Johns counties recorded the least rainfall. Indian River County received 0.95 inches, and Brevard, Osceola and St. Johns counties each received 1.5 inches of rain.
  • Baker and Nassau counties experienced above-average rainfall; both counties received over 4 inches of rain.
  • Marion County was also above average, with a county-wide average of 3.6 inches.

The district pursues water conservation and prescribed fires as preventive tools. The district is dedicated to grassroots education and outreach programs that share with the public the importance of ongoing water conservation and stresses water conservation through the permitting process. Prescribed fires help prevent wildfires by burning off fuels that naturally build up over time. Before conducting a burn, the district ensures wind and other weather conditions, like soil moisture, are correct for safely controlling the fire and minimizing the impacts of smoke to residents and traffic.

County-by-county precipitation reports and other data is available online at