Riverdave’s Journal
This essay appeared in Eno River Currents in Winter of 2003

I cannot allow 2003 to slip away without commenting on the most consistently high flow of water that I have ever witnessed in the Eno River. It was particularly apparent in contrast to the previous year’s low flow that often was less than one cubic foot per second by mid summer of 2002.

As I study the USGS stream flow data for 2003, I find the Eno averaging four times its normal seasonal volume.  This is particularly noteworthy in that this enhanced flow was achieved without the help of any significant drenchings due to the passing of tropical storms

This year’s high water has manifested itself in at least three obvious ways.  First, the large amount of runoff from both development in urban areas and farming in the countryside has left the Eno looking muddier than usual.

A normal summer flow of a dozen cubic feet per second leaves the river extremely clear with fish and other aquatic wildlife quite visible from above.  But for much of this year the bottom of the river has remained hidden from the eyes of waders and wafters, clouded with the mud and silt of runoff water.

Another consequence of high water appears in the aquatic vegetation. In the rocky sections of the river, the usual gardens of emergent water willow have either been matted down flat from the constant high water pressure or, at times, even totally submerged this year.

This effect has given our normally piedmont-looking river a more mountainous appearance, with large volumes of water tumbling over rocks devoid of conspicuous vegetation.  On the other hand, the submerged river weed, that clings to the rocks underneath the water line, is unusually green and even lusher than ever.

A third impact of High water this year has been the drop in the average temperature of the river.  The daytime surface water temperature in the summer normally runs about eighty-five degrees.  I detected a drop of at least five degrees this past summer.

One direct consequence of this drop has been the more obvious presence of basking turtles on fallen logs along the river’s edge.  With cooler water, these reptilians have been out sunning themselves in mass to regulate their metabolism.  It has truly been a fortuitous year for those of us watching the Eno’s six species of river turtles.

Finally, for those members of our river community who harkened to the call of the Great Spirit and pilgrimaged to the rapids at the Sennett Hole in 2003, high water made for a delightful season of river bathing.  Instead of the usual summertime trickle, the pressure of cool, fast moving water pounding over our backs was most bracing and invigorating.

In all the spiritual traditions of the world, water is considered at least a metaphor, if not an actual means, for cleansing, rebirth and renewal.  The abundance of this element flowing in the Eno River this year surely has had a cleansing effect on all who both love and live under the spell of its influence.

Photo by Riverdave: high water at the Eno's Sennett Hole with Riverdave's granddaughter Sienna Wren and her parents