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Summary of the Hydrology of the Floridan Aquifer System In Florida and In Parts of Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama

Hydraulic Properties of the Aquifer System
Regional Flow System
>Groundwater Development
Groundwater Chemistry
Potential for Future Development
PDF Version

By Richard H. Johnson and Peter W. Bush
Professional Paper 1403-A

Groundwater Development

Ground-water development of the Floridan aquifer began in the late 1800's. The cities of Jacksonville Fla., and Savannah Ga., were probably the earliest communities to obtain fresh water from well in the Floridan aquifer system, beginning in the late 1880's. By the early part of this century, development of the Upper Floridan in Florida was well under way. Matson and Sanford (1913, p.233), in their comprehensive report on the geology and ground waters of Florida, stated that "***large numbers of wells have been sunk into the artesian water beds *** along the east coast, from Fernandina southward in the St. Johns valley, and along the west coast from Tampa to Fort Meyers." Since early 1900's, pumpage has steadily increased. By 1950, withdrawals from the Floridan aquifer system exceeded 600 Mgal/d: by 1980, withdrawals were about 3 Bgal/d.

Figure 5 shows the 1980 regional distribution of estimated pumpage from the Floridan aquifer system, by county for all users. Central Florida has become the most heavily developed region of the Floridan aquifer system, in terms of water withdrawn. The phosphate industry and irrigation account for the major part of that pumpage. Pumpage in the area comprised of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, and Orange Counties amounted to about 820 Mgal/d in 1980, or about 27 percent of the total 3 bgal/d Floridan pumpage. Polk County continues to be the most intensely pumped local area; total 1980 Floridan pumpage in Polk County was about 310 Mgal/d. Orange County (encompassing the Orlando-Winter Park area) was second in the 1980 pumpage; an estimated 200 Mgal/d was withdrawn.

Another highly developed area is the coastal strip of southeast Georgia-northeast Florida where about 470 Mgal/d, mostly for industrial use, were being withdrawn in 1980. In northeast Florida, Duval County (Jacksonville area) and Nassau County (Fernandina Beach area) accounted for about 160 Mgal/d pumpage in the Floridan in 1980. In coastal Georgia, largest withdrawals from the Florida in 1980 occurred in Glynn County, which includes the Brunswick area; estimated total pumpage was about 100 Mgal/d. Pumpage in 1980 in Chatham County (Savannah area) and Wayne County (Jessup area) was moderately heavy: about 73 Mgal/d were withdrawn in each of those counties.

The Uses for Ground water withdrawn from the Floridan have changed significantly since 1950. Figure 6 shows the major shift in water use between 1950 and 1980 from industrial and thermoelectric to irrigation more than tripled between 1950 and 1980. The percentage for industrial and thermoelectric use during the same period dropped by more than one-half. The combined pumpage for public supply and rural use was slightly less than one-quarter of the total pumpage in 1950 and a slightly more than one-quarter in 1980. An important use of the Florida Aquifer system in recent years is the subsurface storage of wastes.

As discussed in Professional Paper 1403-G, the injection of treated sewage and industrial wastes into saline parts of the Lower Floridan has increased sharply since the 1970's. Injection of treated sewage into the Boulder zone is being used as an alternative to ocean outfalls in the Miami-Palm Beach coastal area.

Another use of the Floridan in the disposal of excess storm runoff via drainage wells tapping the Upper Floridan. Such wells are used extensively in the Orlando area, as described in Professional Paper 1403-E

map showing estimated pumpage from the Floridan aquifer system by county, 1980
pie charts showing comparison of uses for ground water withdrawn from the Floridan aquifer system, 1950 and 1980
Figure 5. Estimated pumpage from the Floridan aquifer system by county, 1980. [larger version] Figure 6. Comparison of uses for ground water withdrawn from the Floridan aquifer system, 1950 and 1980. [larger version]

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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:04 PM(TJE)