Is There A Way To Stop Floridan Aquifer Depletion?

By on November 6th, 2013

As Florida’s No. 1 source of water continues to be depleted because of overuse, recently proposed legislation may offer permanent solutions to Florida’s water needs.

The Floridan Aquifer System Sustainability Act of 2013, which was proposed by White Springs Mayor Helen B. Miller and 27 other North Florida representatives, would build on past efforts to address water sources on a system-wide basis, and bring permanent solutions to Florida’s water sustainability needs.

The Santa Fe River, for example, used to have higher water levels.

“That’s influenced by the aquifer,” said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, president of Our Santa Fe River, a nonprofit organization working to protect the river and the aquifer that feeds it.

An alligator swims in Lake Wauburg on Tuesday afternoon.  Lake Wauburg is one of the many water sources in Central Florida that is affected by the Floridan aquifer depletion.

Kathryn Allaben / WUFT News

An alligator swims in Lake Wauburg on Tuesday afternoon. Lake Wauburg is one of the many water sources in Central Florida that is affected by the Floridan aquifer depletion.

The Floridan aquifer, a water system beneath the southern coastal regions of the U.S., is one of the world’s most productive, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“It’s limestone, and then on top of it, we have some sands, silts and clays,” said Elizabeth Screaton, a geology professor at the University of Florida.

But because of growing consumption, the aquifer level is declining.

About 103 gallons of water are consumed daily by Florida residents, and more than 60 percent of this water is taken directly from aquifers, according to the Florida’s Springs website.

The Floridan aquifer is the biggest source of water that we use for most counties in Central and North Florida, Screaton said.

Water consumption from every sector has grown from 300 million gallons of water a day in 1960, to 800 million gallons of water a day in 2010.  Tentative information shows this region is at or near capacity to tap the aquifer, according to Mark Hammond, director of the Southwest Florida Water Management Division.

Annmarie Brennan, a resident of Gilchrist County who lives on the Santa Fe River, said rain has a great impact on the river’s water level.

“We’ve been in seasons where it doesn’t rain for a few months and the water gets very low and clear,” Brennan said.

Aquifer depletion is also caused by increased pumping for cities and towns.

The biggest consumer of water is landscape irrigation, Malwitz-Jipson said.

An estimated 900 million gallons of water are withdrawn from the aquifer daily for the sole purpose of watering residential lawns, according to the Florida’s Springs website.

“If you were just using water for your personal use to shower and to do your dishes, we wouldn’t be seeing this problem,” Malwitz-Jipson said.

Monitor wells have been placed across Florida to watch the aquifer’s level.  One of the older and most efficient wells is in Gainesville – in the basement of UF’s Turlington Hall, the main administrative offices for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“We’re really watching that one closely,” Malwitz-Jipson said.

Places like Poe Springs in Alachua County are no longer efficient.

“Poe Springs used to flow a lot better,” Malwitz-Jipson said. “The locals say that the depleted aquifer is why it’s this way.”

Brennan is concerned about the future of Florida’s water.

“I do worry about it,” Brennan said. “My husband and I worry about the well going dry.”

This entry was posted in Environment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

More Stories in Environment

Microbeads, plastic fragments found in foaming soaps and other hygiene products, pose a threat to waterways and marine life once they are washed down the drain.

Microbeads In Everyday Products Damages Ecosystems

Microbeads, like the ones found in common toothpastes and facial products, are damaging the environment more than many people know. The particles in these beads can enter oceans and rivers, disrupting marine life and causing damage to the ecosystem.

Jim Karels, director of the Florida Forest Service, recently received an award from the National Association of State Foresters for his success in doing prescribed burns in Florida.

State Forester Recognized For National Impact

A Florida forester received a national award for fire prevention. He calls prescribed burns the “single most important” land management tool in the state.

At the Alachua County Materials Recovery Facility, workers find many people are recycling aseptic containers, like a soymilk carton, into the wrong recycling bin. “We do take those, but they go in your blue bin, or in your co-mingle bin, with all the other containers,” said Jeff Klugh, recycling program coordinator at the Alachua County Public Works Waste Management Division. “They are sorted as a container, not as a paper product.”

Alachua County Ranks Seventh Statewide In Successful Recycling

Contamination in recycling has lead to deficit for the national recycling industry. Alachua County has managed to remain successful due to their dual stream system.

Bee Keeper

Florida Celebrates National Honey Month, Increases Production And Profit

The month of September is National Honey Month, which marks the end of honey collection for most beekeepers across America. Florida consistently ranks top five for honey production in the country and is seeing an increase in the number of bee colonies in the past 8 years. As a result, the state generates a $13 million annual honey profit.

The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is a treasure that could be affected by rising sea levels.

Project Proposal To Study Effects of Rising Sea Levels In St. Augustine

The new project proposal would go into effect Oct. 1, if approved. Researchers hope to help preserve St. Augustine by highlighting vulnerable areas in infrastructure so the city is better prepared for rising sea levels.

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments